Mary Braidwood Mowle (3 August 1827 - 15 September 1857) was born in Durham, UK. She was the first child o‘The life and times of Mary Braidwood Mowle’
Mary Braidwood Mowle (3 August 1827 - 15 September 1857) was born in Durham, UK. She was the first child of Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a Scottish-born naval surgeon and his wife Jane (née Thompson). Mary arrived in Sydney, on 24 June 1836, on the Strathfieldsaye. This was her father’s final voyage as a surgeon superintendent in convict ships. Mary’s mother Jane died following childbirth in 1838. Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson had a land grant at Braidwood, and Mary was bought up as the daughter of a large landowner. When she visited Sydney, she was regarded as the ‘nicest’ girl in society circles.
‘Fortune played havoc with her short life.’
In the early 1940s, Mary’s circumstances changed dramatically. As a consequence of the drought and depression of the early 1940s, Thomas Braidwood Wilson was declared bankrupt. On 11 November 1843 he committed suicide. Mary was left a penniless orphan at 16, and went to live with her uncle, George Wilson, at Mt Seymour near Oatlands in the midlands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). Mary married Stewart Marjoribanks Mowle on 12 May 1845 at Oatlands. Stewart Mowle was a protégé of (Sir) Terence Murray of Yarralumla, New South Wales (now the Governor-General’s residence in the ACT), and the Mowles first lived at Murray’s outstation at Mannus, near Tumbarumba. The Mowles then lived at a farm known as Klensendorlffe’s on the Limestone Plains (now Canberra, ACT).
Mary’s diaries covers the period from 30 December 1850 to 2 June 1851 (when she lived on the Limestone Plains), and 1 January 1853 to 20 January 1854 and 11 May 1854 to 16 March 1855 when she lived at Eden on the south coast of New South Wales. During the period she lived in Eden, she spent some time with family at Mt Seymour.
‘The last months of 1854 and the beginning of 1855 were probably the happiest and most carefree the Mowles ever enjoyed.’
In 1855, the Mowles left Eden when Stewart was transferred to the Customs House in Sydney. Mary’s sixth child, a son, was born on 31 August 1857. Two weeks later, Mary died from complications of childbirth. She was survived by her husband, two sons and three daughters. Mary was aged 30.
Ms Clarke has provided an historical context for Mary’s diary entries, which provides a sense of the broader times and of the people referred to. Ms Clark also alerts the reader to the fact that the diaries are not complete: some pages have been removed, and some entries are incomplete.
I enjoyed reading this book: learning that Dr Thomas Baidwood Wilson was responsible for the first successful importation of bees (landed on 28 January 1831), which he presented to the Botanic Gardens in Hobart. I also enjoyed reading about people and places that are now part of the history of the region of Australia in which I live. Mary’s short life saw many variations: from attending the best social functions in the district to being short of food for her children. She also includes a wealth of information about day to day life: raising and educating her family, the dangers of childhood illness and of childbirth, the social exchanges in small communities. Her account of life at Eden, which includes the movements of ships into and out of the port and of whaling operations provides a fascinating account of life in the mid-nineteenth century.
The originals of Mary’s diaries are held in the National Library of Australia in Canberra.
‘My healing began when I decided to write my autobiography and I continued to write throughout my illnesses.’
Doris Eileen Kartinyeri was born in South‘My healing began when I decided to write my autobiography and I continued to write throughout my illnesses.’
Doris Eileen Kartinyeri was born in South Australia on 8 September 1945. One month later, her mother died. When Doris’s father and aunt went to the hospital to collect Doris to take her home, they found she had been removed from the hospital by the welfare officer from the Protector’s office. This is how Doris became one of the children of the Stolen Generations. Her family was devastated: she had been left in the hospital on doctor’s advice until after her mother’s funeral, but was removed from hospital the day before the funeral.
Doris was placed in the Colebrook Home for Aboriginal Children in South Australia, where she lived for the first fourteen years of her life. While Doris has some good memories from her time at Colebrook, especially during the first seven years, life at Colebrook changed from 1952 when Sister Hyde and Sister Rutter left. The new administration, inflexibly Christian and with continual staff turnover was not as supportive of the children’s needs. Education became less important than training the children for menial work.
‘It was decided I was to leave Colebrook when I was fourteen. I didn’t know why.’
Doris was placed in white homes as a domestic servant, where she was also abused. Her experiences made her feel insecure and inferior. Doris’s life was complicated by the onset of bipolar affective disorder, by relationship failures, by feeling like she didn’t belong, and by not knowing enough about her family. As Doris remarks several times throughout her memoir, so many of the Colebrook children (especially the boys) have died. For many, while alcohol and other substances can often provide a short-term relief to the pain of dislocation, in the long-term it can prove deadly.
‘I needed to find out who my family was because I wanted them so desperately.’
There are many sad stories from the survivors of the Stolen Generations. While many share similar characteristics, each is the story of an individual. Of a person who once was part of a family and longs to belong again. Doris’s story is a reminder that the practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families - simply because they were Aboriginal - was not in any one’s best interests, and has consequences far beyond childhood. 'Kick the Tin' was the name of a game played at Colebrook, where children had to run and hide after a tin was kicked. Doris compares her life to the game, as she tries to come to terms with the past though writing this book.
‘My children have always stood by me and given me the incentive to go on. The main purpose in writing this book is to record the story of my life for them.’
Doris’s voice is important. Her story should not be forgotten.
‘The events in this novel could have occurred at any time in the late 1960s or early 1970s.’
But, because this novel - unlike the Vietnam War which pro‘The events in this novel could have occurred at any time in the late 1960s or early 1970s.’
But, because this novel - unlike the Vietnam War which provides its setting - is a work of fiction, the events described did not take place. Or, if they did, not quite in the way they are described here. The novel follows Brian ‘Donkey’ Simpson and his mates during their one year tour of during the Vietnam War. Donkey and his mates were Saigon Warriors, working in offices on public relations, administration and intelligence. While frontline combat is some distance away, there’s plenty of intrigue (and mischief) to keep them occupied.
‘He was beginning to realise that thinking, in this man’s Army, in this country, was a brain numbing and totally pointless exercise…’
Donkey has a particularly entrepreneurial mate, Ned, who manages to sell kangaroo feathers to the American (the ‘Septics’) for $50 each as well as to acquire an American jeep for two cases of Australian beer and a pair of boots. The soldiers also know the best bars, and think they know the best girls. Hmm.
‘The caption read: “DANGER: Beware Aussies bearing kangaroo feathers. They are a wealth hazard.”’
Saigon is not entirely safe, and war provides a handy cover for various political ploys. Donkey is used as a pawn by the local command to try to locate and trap an informant who seems to know too much about Australian operations. It all becomes very complicated, at least for Donkey. Who can he trust?
‘There are some people you and I work with who may not be what they seem.’ Will Donkey’s relationship with his fiancée Allison survive his tour of duty? Will Donkey and his mates be killed by the antics of Jansen with his endless renditions of ‘Good Old Collingwood Forever’?
While the novel is often light-hearted, it is also serious. The young men in this novel, full of bravado, opportunistic and reckless remind us that other young men did not survive. Bernard Clancy himself was a National Serviceman who served in South Vietnam in 1968-69. The novel is full of Australian vernacular, and while the meaning of most can be worked out from their context, others may pose more of a challenge. Fair dinkum.
‘‘It’s all over,” he murmured. “Best we forget.”
Note: I was offered and accepted a copy of this novel for review purposes.
In July 1887, Sebastian Brigandshaw’s world is turned upside down. He has been planning for the day when he c‘Why don’t we send him on a long voyage?’
In July 1887, Sebastian Brigandshaw’s world is turned upside down. He has been planning for the day when he can marry his childhood sweetheart Emily. Instead he is sent from England by his father on a long sea voyage so that his older brother Arthur can marry Emily. Emily is 16, Sebastian is 17, and Arthur is 30. Their fathers have plotted a marriage for dynastic reasons: Captain Brigandshaw has money and Sir Henry Manderville is an aristocrat with a title, a huge home and no money. Sir Henry thinks that Emily will get over Sebastian, and that he, Emily and the Brigandshaws will benefit from the arrangement.
Thus begins a long, sprawling saga (of which this is the first instalment) about ambition, greed and love.
‘We shall wait. In Africa there is always time.’
Much of the novel is set in Africa, and Mr Rimmer’s knowledge and love of Africa is clear. The period covered by the novel (1887 to 1901) includes the second Boer War as well as the increasing tension between the black and white populations. There are many different characters in this novel, introduced by Mr Rimmer in order to cover the many different strands to the saga. This requires attentive reading in order to follow the story. Unfortunately, the typographical errors exposed by attentive reading kept jerking me out of the story (‘a breach [breech] birth’, ‘too [two] small hands’ and ‘except [accept] your offer’ spring immediately to mind). Proofreading would eradicate these relatively minor (but for me, at least, irritating) errors.
I enjoyed this story, particularly the parts set in Africa dealing with the causes of the Boer War and the consequences for the characters. I understand that Mr Rimmer intends publishing more novels in the Brigandshaw Chronicles, and I will certainly be keen to read them. I would like to know more about the lives of many of these characters.
‘No one has ever tamed Africa and maybe no one ever will.’
Note: I was offered, and accepted, a copy of this novel for review purposes.
‘The murder of crows descended in a noisy fluster, settling in a row on the stone wall, ..’
After their performance at a New Year’s Eve party in 1944,‘The murder of crows descended in a noisy fluster, settling in a row on the stone wall, ..’
After their performance at a New Year’s Eve party in 1944, Madeline (Maddie) Hyde and her husband Elllis find themselves cut off financially by Ellis’s wealthy parents. Ellis’s father, a former army colonel, is ashamed of Ellis’s inability to serve in the military because he has been diagnosed with colour blindness. Ellis and his extremely wealthy best friend Hank (who can’t serve either because of his diagnosis of flat feet) decide to travel to Scotland to hunt down the Loch Ness monster. They seem to think that this will enable them to regain the Colonel’s favour. Why? Because the Colonel had attempted to prove the existence of the monster years earlier, in an attempt that ended in public humiliation.
So, Maddie, Ellis and Hank travel by ship across the Atlantic and end up in the village of Drumnadrochit where they soon find neither accommodation nor food is to their liking. The locals have directly suffered the ravages of war, and have little time for these three privileged outsiders.
While Ellis and Hank try to find and film the monster, Maddie is left behind at the inn. Slowly, she steps outside her usual privileged world and gradually makes friends with some of the locals. As she does so, Maddie becomes aware that life is full of possibilities. But what about Ellis and Hank?
I have mixed views about this novel. Notwithstanding the desire to track down the Loch Ness monster, I had difficulty accepting the proposition that three selfish young Americans would have travelled across the Atlantic to the UK in early 1945. While I enjoyed aspects of the Scottish side of the story, it was all a little too dramatic and romantic for me. And the ending? Well, it didn’t work for me, it was far too neat. But you enjoy romantic escapism and you don’t mind improbably neat endings and then you may well enjoy this novel more than I did.