Writer Miles Franklin wrote vividly and honestly about the Australian bush, at a time when pioneers faced the daunting challenges of opening it up.
Story By John Dunn
The evening sun settles slowly on the Wollogorang Creek outside Goulburn in southern New South Wales, reflecting on a glistening pond and lighting up the greenery that is making a valiant stand against the persisting drought. Cattle graze contentedly in this solitude, some seeking the shade of the manna gums on the eastern side, which is a 750-metre-high ridge of the Great Dividing Range.
That is the view from the western bank and even in waterless times it is not hard and harsh as so much of the Australian landscape can be, but soft and gentle and still and quiet, which to a writer can be perfect conditions for composition.
Certainly Miles Franklin found it so because it was here, looking down on such a setting, after a long day of farming and household chores, that this gifted rural teenager wrote her epic novel, the much acclaimed My Brilliant Career.
That was some 110 years ago and while the site and scenery have changed somewhat, the atmosphere and the mood has not. Today, on a calm and sunny afternoon, it is impossible not to feel that the spirit of this great writer remains on the very spot where she analysed and described Australian bush life as it was in the early settlement times in which she lived.
One of the reasons that all this is so alive so long afterwards is the enthusiasm and knowledge of the couple who now live on the Franklin farm and who have made it a part of their life to discover and inform themselves – and others interested in the relics that remain of this extraordinary woman – of the role she played, and continues to play, in the literary history of our inland.
This story excerpt is from Issue #59
Outback Magazine: June/July 2008