Part One - Before the house
During the 1990s I came back to the district my family had lived in and farmed for three generations. There have been a lot of moves and changes since. This is where that particular story begins.
So it happened that one clear and sunny winter Saturday we took a picnic and drove to the beautiful Fassifern Valley. It was years since I’d been there and I wasn’t an efficient guide. I was sharing some of my childhood with my new best friend. The region was officially called the Scenic Rim in 2008 when local council boundaries were changed, although it had been referred to by that name for many years. The traditional owners are the Ugarupul people.
Boonah is a genuine country town with its one main street and non-city ways. At that time all the shops closed at midday on Saturday except for a fruiterer where we bought cold drinks. Next door was a real estate agent which was half-heartedly open for business. Sipping our drinks and vaguely reading the ‘for sale’ cards in the window, we suddenly both knew that we wanted to have a stake in this place. A kind and patient agent showed us a few blocks of land – we were unhelpful in that we didn’t know our budget or whether we wanted a house as well as land. We didn’t even know for sure that we were ‘a couple’.
Most places we viewed were attractive and probably suitable. One block edged down a gentle slope towards a valley; it had breathtaking views of Minto Crag and purple ranges to the south and west. It was a small vacant block, a sub-divided bite out of a larger property, with a new 3-strand barbed wire fence and shiny gate. The driveway petered out into waist high grass among tall trees. We pushed on and came to a dam full of water. Near the dam was a large fig tree decorated with a vigorous elkhorn. There were grasstrees on the far side of the dam. An hour later we were the owners of the dam, the driveway, the elkhorn and all the land that surrounded them. Well, we’d signed the contract, all the boring negotiating and handing over of money would happen sometime.
The next few weeks were fully occupied with work, the land deal went through and in fact, we didn’t think about it much. Then we started visiting our land and getting to know it, spending at least one day every weekend tramping the boundaries and making plans. We were coy about telling our families, they were still circling around the idea of ‘us’. Not able to find the right words, we loaded them all, in turn, into the Jeep and took them there. While admitting it was a pretty spot, they clearly believed we’d made a rash decision which would be regretted. Only the first part is true, that block has given us some hard times financially and physically but we loved it all the more, like a charming but unruly child.
Photo of Minto Crag by UQBWC