If you are looking for a crackin' yarn from times before modern technology, let Del take you back to when people had time to appreciate life itself.
My Country Life ...for what it's worth.
The initial chapters begin with the arduous lives of our forebears who journeyed from the United Kingdom and Europe. Life there was very tenuous with fears driving them to immigrate to Australia, which although largely unknown, was seen as a new opportunity and hope for them. Our early national history reflects people in all roles that sought to open the vast opportunities presented.
Exploration followed slowly as Sydney was restricted by the Blue Mountains for twenty-five years. However, the railways were to the fore of early development even though each state had different gauges. This issue loomed large & wasn't alleviated for almost a century.
Reflection on history continues in the day to day description of Singleton township, during the nineteen fifties and into the sixties. The era offered much in the way of change and opportunity following the Second World War.
Likewise education was to give many opportunities. This included discipline moderately applied with a length of lawyer cane which at the time seemed to exact poor justice. However, we knew our place. We were children, certainly not revered as little adults. To graduate to be a teenager then an adult needed to be earned with the progression of time.
The following chapters overview the local industries which focused on feeding our nation as much as providing exports. In the background, life changed markedly with the advent of television. This new form of entertainment took away the evenings of family interaction and sleep. Reflecting on the time, it remains the first form of widespread technology!
With express permission, this author wrote of our neighbours, “the Cooper Family”. In their home, three generations lived side by side with few if any luxuries. They were without outside communications & managed quite well despite the essence life being “hard work”.
Working horses have played a huge role with livestock in the Hunter Valley and deserve much space within these chapters. The author has been acquainted with many champions who excelled in open competition at a whole wealth of events. The chapter “When one tenth of a second is a lifetime” covers my competitive sport in travelling with my horse to roping events over eleven years in and around the nineteen seventies.
Some opportunities only come after a massive amount of planning. During 1972 with mate Clem Bourke, we travelled the length and breadth of eastern and central Australia when the “roads” made travel an adventure. We visited every mainland state over seven and a half months. And then somewhere in South Australia, we were both offered employment which we can't bring to mind!
“St. Clair”, home to David Richards and his family ceased to exist as such during the nineteen seventies when the property was resumed for a large water storage. That resulted in changed family circumstances forever when many relatives and neighbours were forced to relocate to other regions.
By 1980 my wife's health deteriorated in becoming a chronic asthmatic, due to industrial pollution, so we moved to Narrabri, northern NSW where she had grown up. She regained her well- being as a result of making the decision. In the longer term, we lost our entire home through fire one night which left us without any belongings whatsoever. That doesn't do much for one's appetite. However, you rise again from the ashes. It was a most difficult situation to deal with, resulting in a “no choices” learning curve. That event again served as a reminder to pen this volume.
Then in 1994 we moved to Mossman in far north Queensland, and developed a completely new business, “Fine Feather Tours”. Over twenty-three years, many guests have joined us as we located bird species for their records and in turn their digital cameras. Guests have included many people including an Equerry to Queen Elizabeth II, and ladybird breeders; from game wardens to a Vice - Admiral to the US Pacific Fleet. All were of great interest.
Chapter number twenty is reflective upon the many that I have met. They by virtue of their ability and gifts have in an unheralded manner given much to the betterment of understanding the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef region. From some it's been indigenous music and art; others made contributions to conservation in so many forms.
All have a a significant story to relate.
Then came the Second World War. It was always my intention to touch on it.
However, I was unable to leave it at that. I interviewed many of the diminishing generation so willing to share direct memories of what transpired and to be realistic they will not be here after another decade. Many of their memories haven't been recorded in print before as there remained a complete embargo on any information during hostilities.
And afterwards, little has been discussed in the public record.
The closing chapter examines other history that has reflected on our land Australia along with the changing World as we know it. It deserves to be talked about as recent broad scale technology has steadily removed our modern generations from where they came from.
My wife Patricia often reminded me “We've lived in the best of times” mainly because life had straight forward expectations. Upon reflection how right she was.
Enjoy the read and travel safe ~ Del.