If you tour the back roads of rural Australia you will occasionally see them. As the structures are of no architectural merit, they seem to also have no heritage value. But, look carefully at this picture I took at Borenore NSW. What do you see?
You will see a structure that was built by one man’s own hand and within which his many children were born. Could any home be loved more? To its occupants it must have felt to be almost a real person in itself.
Who were these pale-skinned men and women who scratched out a living on a portion of land called a “selection” - land that only a few decades before was unknown to all but dark-skinned people who may have wandered over it? In a beautiful verse Steele Rudd tells us. He opens the Australian classic On Our Selection with the following:
To you who gave our country birth;
to the memory of you whose names, whose giant enterprise, whose deeds of fortitude and daring were never engraved on tablet or tombstone;
to you who strove through the silences of the bush-lands and made them ours;
to you who delved and toiled in loneliness through the years that have faded away;
to you who have no place in the history of our country so far as it is yet written;
to you who have done most for this land;
to you for whom, in the march of settlement, in the turmoil of busy city life, few now appear to care; and
to you particularly, good old dad, this book is most affectionately dedicated.
Overlooked, and at the very core of our history, is a collection of people with rudimentary education who, in a way, shared the one collective consciousness because their problems were so similar.