On the 12 November, the day after Remembrance Day, my dear Dad, Syd, turns 75. On that day or shortly thereafter, this website will go live, the culmination of months of work, in reality, years of work in the writing of my first series, The Iceberg Trilogy.
It has been a difficult labour of love – not the writing or any of the creative aspects – but getting it out there into the hands of new readers. Thwarted by conventional publishing avenues – after some promising associations – but urged on by my early readers, I have followed my heart’s desire. The kids need to leave home, go out in the world and have their own life. There are other stories crying to be told.
It is heartening that this is happening around my father’s big day, for my father is a risk taker — you should play 500 with him! He likes to dream big, and I like to think a little bit of that has rubbed off on me.
In the late 1960s he (and my mother) was a pioneer in dairy farming, planting new grass varieties, irrigating, fertilising and slashing long into the night, to encourage verdant growth which saw an Australian record for buttermilk in our jersey cows. His experiments were a resounding success. He featured in a major promotional campaign for the Department of Primary Industries and our farm was visited by agro-academics from all over Australia. The next year, he went large scale, ploughing up all our fields and planting a new tropical legume plant called Siratro. And then before it could barely take off, the unimaginable happened. Drought struck. For three years, it barely rained. We had to resort to pulling out old bean plants from neighbouring farms to feed the cows; my mother returned to nursing. Eventually my parents had to walk off the farm, narrowly avoiding bankruptcy.
But one thing my parents knew how to do well was to work hard and save money. Five years later they purchased another farm – this one outright – at the junction of two creeks and a lagoon at the head of Cedar Pocket, jut over a mile away from where my father grew up.
This farm had two deep, clean-flowing rock pools that were always cold, even in the height of summer. It had wide open pastures full of kikuyu for me to gallop across on my spirited new horse. And when you walked outside at night and gazed at the stars you knew you were in nature’s cinema.
There were stars like the ones that enthralled Samuel in my novel Seldom Come By. Yet at other times, you had this sense that the world was out there and you were missing out on some kind of wonderful — like how Rebecca felt when she gazed out onto her chameleon sea longing for the sighting of a single iceberg to light up her indifferent world.
So on the eve of my Dad’s three-quarter of a century celebration I have decided to take a risk, dream big and back myself. In formation behind me are some amazing family and friends who believe in me.
Happy birthday Dad. Thanks for going the distance! Let’s hope I do too.