Mary Durack’s Birthday
Mary Durack’s Birthday was on February 20th. I didn’t realise this until this morning (February 22nd), but it reminded me of a time back in 2013. I visited the Durack Homestead.
When I planned my trip around Australia, I had wanted to go to places where famous women writers had lived. While I was not able to make it to all the places I had initially planned, some I did and the Durack Homestead, former home of Mary Durack was on the list. It was moved from where it would have been underwater, as Lake Argyle filled was an emotional visit. Lake Argyle is a man-made water storage and it covered much of the Durack family property.
Mary was born on February 20th, 1913, in Adelaide. You can read her story here.
The Durack Homestead Saved
Around 1970, as the Lake Argyle was created, the Durack Homestead, which was low in the lake area, was removed brick by brick, stone by stone, gravesite by gravesite, and reconstructed above high watermark.
Mary wrote a number of classic books but the one most known is Kings in Grass Castles, a detailed story of the family’s history in Australia. I’ve not read it all – it is a “hard slog” according to many readers and I wonder if I should not listen to it via Audible.
I’ve read quite a lot of criticism about how the Durack family treated the Australian first peoples, but when I visited the Homestead I head different stories. I heard how Mary looked after them, taught them skills and employed them in the homestead. It would have been difficult as the aboriginals were treated badly all over Australia during this period.
When I did my drive around Australia I did it alone. I drove my Mitsubishi Lancer from Brisbane, south, to Adelaide and along the coast to Derby, and then across the north of WA and NT. As I was driving into Lake Argyle, I was surprised to see the Homestead on the left, and turned into the car parking area immediately.
I have mentioned before, how I get emotional at historical places, and this was no different. Much to the surprise of the lady at the entry, where I paid to enter, I was crying and she initially thought something awful had happened to me. My explanation of my response to historical places surprised her, but she was quite pleasant to me.
Around the yard and inside I wandered taking a few photos here and there. I was emotional about the gravesites (see photo above), and as I wandered in each room and read the stories attached to various exhibits I became entranced by the stories.
It was getting late in the afternoon, so I stayed as long as I dared, as I had yet to arrange accommodation and the only place was the Lake Argyle Caravan Park, which was, I found out, very busy.
When I was greeted at reception at the Park, I could see there was a problem. I had hoped to find a cabin available, but there was none. Since I didn’t have my own van, we had to discuss alternatives. There were some luxury homes on the edge of the lake, awesome beautiful expensive buildings with stunning views across the water. Too expensive for me!
I was offered a room in the staff quarters. A small room with bed and bathroom. It was great and inexpensive, so I spent two nights there. As I was booking in, the receptionist informed me about a boat trip on the lake that night, so I happily went on it. What an amazing experience. The spectacular views around the lake we impressive. Some people jumped into the water and swam with small crocodiles. Something I just watched from the deck of the boat.