Jun 6, 2012

In The Footsteps of....

by Sharon Archer

In the footsteps of ... lots and lots and LOTS of real-life heroes and heroines!

We're on the road in Outback Australia at the moment and soaking up the hugeness of the country, the red soil, the vast skies, the enormous distances. I'm loving reading about the people who came here and did amazing things... but today I want to share something else....  I'm following in the footsteps of the heroines of the Lucy Walker novels that I so adored when I was a teenager living in New Zealand.  Australia and the Outback seemed an exotic, faraway place!

I can't name any of the novels now but I'll never forget the enjoyment they brought me, the thrill of escaping homework and teenage-angst to immerse myself in the Outback, the taciturn heroes - so tall and handsome and capable, the huge stations, and the courageous young heroines, so far out of their comfort zones, who carved a place for their future.

For some reason, it's the names of the rivers that have really stayed with me - the Murrumbidgee, the Darling.  Tonight we're camped at Bourke in Outback New South Wales on the banks of the Darling River!

So, from the photos we've taken so far, I'm going to take you on a little tour of some of the things that a Lucy-Walker heroine might have seen...

The wide open spaces...

Huge dams for watering stock... and perhaps a nice dip on a hot summer day...

A misty morning, ghostly gums and a rich red road....

A wash out on a creek line exposing roots sunk deep in the soil...

A full moon in a billabong...

Maybe the hero would have brewed her a billy tea... though I'm sure he'd have settled his billy on the fire much better than I did!  Looks ready to tip over, don't you think!

I took lots of these pictures at a magic little place we discovered near Nymagee, NSW - Four Corners Farm Stay.  We arrived for one night and, loved it so much, we ended up staying for two weeks!

So how about you... have you explored places you'd read about in a book?  Are there places you've read about that you'd particularly like to explore?


  1. Sharon, I love your photos! You've really captured the feel of that part of inland Australia. You know, I hadn't thought about it till you mentioned it but we do have some marvellous river names, don't we?

    How terrific to be following in the footsteps of romance heroes and heroines!

    I often read about places I want to explore. Your post reminded me of my teen years when I read a lot of books by Mary Stewart, like 'The Moonspinners' set in the mountains of Crete and 'My Brother Michael' at Delphi in Greece. Not to mention other books set on Skye and in France. I'm sure those books influenced me in my interest in Greece and my travels to that part of the world, and to Skye. I'm only just beginning to explore France now and having a wonderful time. Then there are all the other places I've read about since that get added to my must visit list...

  2. Thanks, Annie! I was really pleased with the way the pics turned out so I had to share some of the best ones!

    There's the Diamantina River too - love the way that rolls off my tongue! I don't think we'll get there this trip -- a bit too off our course. But another time, I hope!

    Oh yes, I enjoyed Mary Stewart's books too! How lovely to explore some of the settings in her stories. And France - I've loved reading your blogs on France and Germany!

    So many wonderful places to explore!

  3. Gorgeous photos, Sharon, and it sounds as if you're having a wonderful time!

    I'd love to explore inland Australia too -- and as it's very wet and very cold in my neck of the woods, I'm envying you your clear skies. :-)

    I devoured an awful lot of Enid Blyton when I was young so England was always featured on my list of must-explores, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Would love to get to Italy and Greece one day too -- must be all those intense, brooding Greek and Italian heroes I've been reading lately. ;-)

  4. Oh, Sharon, just gorgeous photos and a nice link to Lucy Walker. I was hooked by Lucy Walker on the outback and romance. I have only one of the books (the one set in England, of course, that isn't even one I loved!) and I wish I kept them all. I used to live at Condobolin (not far from Nymagee) and it's a beautiful place in the world.
    Enjoy your travels :)
    Cath xo

  5. When I was about 11 years old, my Father had long service leave. So, we packed up the old Holden station wagon & tented our way around Australia. It was superb!! No school for about 4 months, but since both my parents were teachers it was permissible.

  6. Hi Sharon - what fabulous photographs. I spent several years of my childhood travelling this wonderful country in an awesome renovated schoolbus and the memories are still strong. I love the shot of the moon over the water. So great that you're having a fab time :)

  7. Nice photos, Sharon.

    Today is D-Day.

  8. Beautiful photos, Sharon. They remind me of a book I loved as a teenager - A Town Like Alice. I'm not Australian but I love the place names. Have always wanted to visit Humpty Doo!

    Looks like you're having a fabulous time.

  9. Thanks, Michelle! We're having an excellent time - will be even better when we're "organised"! It takes time to "settle" into efficient "patterns" so things go smoothly. At the moment it seems to take me ages to "do" anything - and there's so much to see and do that I don't want to be "doing" tent-keeping stuff! I want to be out and about!

    I was an Enid fan too! And Rudyard Kipling! Especially Rikki Tikki Tavi - I wanted a mongoose!

  10. Thanks, Cath! Bummer about your Lucy Walker collection sort of melting away over the years.

    Hey we ended up at Condo... we were slightly, ummm, misplaced! I'm usually fairly good at navigating but I got us on the Burthong Road when we should have been on the Bobadah Road! Anyway, it meant we ended up having to go through to Condobolin for fuel. Which was a bit of luck because it's an excellent town - somewhere we'll definitely come back to explore some more!

  11. Wow, how fantastic, Marybelle! What great memories and at 11 years old, I think we remember things very very well. And in a Holden station wagon - there's something quintessentially Aussie about that!

  12. And wow to you too, Helen! How fabulous to have spent several years travelling Oz in an old school bus! That's really learning geography in a whole new way - so much more fun than at the school desk! What awesome memories you must have too!

  13. Thanks, Mikey. Hey, you're right - today is the anniversary of D-Day. Thank you for the reminder.

  14. Thanks, Barb! Oh, yes, A Town Like Alice! That's a great story! There was an excellent mini-series on TV many years ago - with Helen Morse from memory. Actually, I was very partial to Nevil Shute's On The Beach too.

    LOL on Humpty Doo!

  15. I'm so jealous of your trips around Australia, Sharon! Those photos are gorgeous. I'd love to travel anywhere in Oz. I'm sad to say that I've seen more of the rest of the world than I have of home turf.

    One of my favorite o/s trips was to Scotland. I spent years planning that trip.

    My maternal ancestors are the McLeods from the Isle of Skye. My grandmother used to tell us all about them. So when I went to the "family" castle it was like I'd already been there. And the scarey thing was, one of the portraits of one of my female ancestor's (circla 1600's) was the spitting image of my great auntie! Eerie.

    Travelling around Scotland left me feeling like it was "home", so much of the countryside and the places I visited had such a profound impact on me - it was like I'd "gone home". One day I'd love to go back there.

  16. oooo, Kylie, you've given me goose bumps with that story about the c1600 portrait looking like your great auntie! That sort of thing really captures my fancy! Did you spot any resemblances to you?

    I have a very strong Scottish ancestry too and LOVED visiting Scotland and imagining that I might be standing where one of my GGGG grandmothers/fathers might have stood! I think I'm a serious softy compared to the hard souls they must have been!

  17. oops that should have been hardy souls!

  18. Sharon, those photos are *gorgeous*! I'm hugely jealous, though I can't believe you're camping out in such cold weather. :)

  19. Thanks, Rachel! Hey, it IS cold! I got a fab pic of a frost covered weed a few mornings ago - and then I scurried inside to the heater! About to fill up the hot water bottle so it's snuggly when I'm ready to go to bed... which won't be long at all! This camping is tiring business!