Back in the day, ha ha, isn’t that something your grandparents said? Well back in the day, which was only around 30 years ago, my married life started in a long rectangular building.
Verandahs down either side, 6 bedrooms and a dining room which ran the width of the building. Our dining table, that could fit a football team, became a great gathering place for many loud dinners. I had good size kitchen, we shall describe it as country chic and a wood stove that would come in handy for more than cooking food.
A large storeroom
Let’s up the ante and call it a Butler’s Pantry. There was an office which was actually the cooks room.
Okay, so if you haven’t worked it out we started our together life living in the shearer’s quarters.
The homestead had burnt down a few years before, so this was now our home.
Had I ever dreamt of what my together home would be like?
Don’t think I had really.
Did I balk at the idea of living here?
No, it was a roof over our heads.
But darn hot in Summer .
Mind you not the hot of the Summers today (at least I don’t think they were, we survived with just a fan “back in the day”) It was cold in Winter, a time when I certainly loved that woodstove.
There was a shower block outside about a four metre walk away, a donkey (an outdoor boiler) for hot water, which really only got lit in Winter as the heat from the sun in Summer kept the water in the pipeline hot enough even for washing up.
The toilet block was a much longer walk. Now the thing with the toilet, other than a longish walk away, was you had to climb through a fence to get to it. I tell you that fence was cursed more times than not and often discussed in length when gathering with friends and family.
It even became the reason we gave our neighbours a golden painted pair of pliers for Christmas one year when, after a night of frivolity and celebrating a 30th birthday, said neighbour cut the fence wires. Still have to chuckle at his daring. However, cut wires made way for a brand new gate.
Oh we had gone up in the world.
As a young mum living in shearers quarters I learnt a couple of things,
- unpolished wood floors result in lots of splinters in little hands and knees of crawling babies – tweezers became a necessary in your pockets
- cloth nappies hung on windy days became catching gloves for daisy burrs
- when we lucked days of wet weather the wood stoves became a modern day clothes drier
- chicken wired fashioned into a sort of cage would be placed over the top of the stove and you could dry 6 cloth nappies at a time, flipping them every so often
- leaving children bare footed stopped them wandering too far from home as burrs would eventually holt their journey
- shower blocks are cozy homes for centipedes so you should never let your night attire fall on the floor as you might just find yourself sharing said night attire with said Centipede.
Now we lived in the quarters for a few years, actually two children worth of years. This included a number of pack ups so the shearing team could take up residence for the duration of shearing or crutching.
The men would camp in one of the sheds at the old house and I would clear out to my mothers. This got quite tedious and thankfully brought about the move into a new home.
We lived through dry months, wet days, lots of hot days and freezing, gale force windy nights. Our walls may have been corrugated iron, our floors unpolished and m dust a constant companion, but nothing could beat a night around an open fire.
The stars were our led lights, our music was the night sounds and laughter of those gathered with adults and children alike participating in a game of “Murder in the Dark.”
We eventually moved into the Nu Steel home which was being built on the site of the old homestead. A build, that was only happening when the men were having some down time. A build that also continued around us as we moved in.
It was a simple life “back in the day,” not easy, but simple,. I look around myself and think how chaotic our life now seems yet we don’t want for anything…