Saturday, September 18, 2010

beginnings (coda)

Reliving/ reviewing my arrrty journey (albeit in a very abridged form) as a series of 'beginnings' over this past week has been really cathartic (and exhausting).... Yes I can see some recurring themes and obsessions (text! boooooks!), but mostly I noticed that, until a couple of years ago, there was one thing strangely absent in my arts practice......

My home - Sams Creek.....

 this pic was taken in the drought-breaking flood earlier this year -
it was featured on 'the weather channel', as was my excited report about the longed for RAIN at Sams Creek!

Sams Creek is far more than my postal address.... Sams Creek is my soul's home.....

The Ayliffe family (my parents and grandparents) bought the 365 acre run-down farm at Sams Creek (6kms north of the small township of Cobargo, where we all lived) in the late 1960s. The property was purchased from 2 elderly bachelor brothers (the Elliott 'boys') on the priviso that the men (and their old work horse) could stay on the farm for the rest of their days.

here's me with my stunning mumma and skinny dad (them's some sexy legs daddio!),
just after the family purchased the Sams Creek property.....
I'm the first member of the family to ever LIVE on the farm

this pic was taken about 30m from where the old house - my house still stands -
ps the old shed in the background still (almost) stands!

me and the main men in my life - my dad and my 2 grandfathers -
I'm about 2-3yrs old in this pic. My Poppy T (wearing the hat.... gosh but how I loved that man!)
had a dairy farm about 5kms from here.... he was the 'real' farmer of the bunch...

Every week my family would deliver a load of groceries, and I can vaguely remember the oldest and last of the brothers (Percy), who passed away when I was around 5yrs old. However, I vividly remember the old house - I only got to venture inside after it was vacated (I was about six by then). But by about the age of eight I had decided this old house would one day be My Home....

I took this pic of 'my' funny little house in the mid-1970s when I was 8-9 years old.....
already I was dreaming how I could make it mine....

I was still dreaming and photographing 'my' house a decade later..... this pic is circa 1985...

All good things come to those who wait.... and my wait finally paid off in 1988, for at last the funny, century-old house - with no electricity, no running water, no bathroom, no kitchen, no telephone, no insulation, no floor coverings, no heating, no cooling, (ummm... actually it was missing quite a few window panes and all the interior lining back then also - and I'm not going to start to describe the outside pan toilet....) - was STILL my dream property and at last it was My Home!


It took six months to install running water and a flush toilet (believe me - there is NO romance in an outside dunny), another six months to get a bathroom and bring the electricity some 1.5kms over the paddocks, one year to hook up the telephone, 3 years to gain a rudimentary working kitchen and some replacement glass..... and then another 14 years to actually commence the big fix up (re-pier, re-roof, re-place half the house that was condemned...)

the 'big fix up' was 9 years ago....

We kept all the original house (circa 1870 - with round timber construction, double brick chimney, wide original hardwood floorboards, pressed metal wall and ceiling coverings), and about half of the school house addition (added circa 1920s) but the rest of the school rooms were deemed 'too far gone'. We managed to save the third brick chimney, the handslumped glass window panes and coloured glass inserts... We put the new structure back on the footprint of what we removed (so it's a modest little house) and clad it all in matching weatherboard.

the original double chimney of the old house is still going strong -
and just check out the original unpainted
weatherboards... love 'em
I've just started making a small dry herb patch at the chimney base

here's My beautiful Home now.....

My Home, sweet Home - spring 2010

I know it's terribly self-indulgent to be rattling on and on about my arrrty background and the makings of my little home here Sams Creek as I have this week - so I do so appreciate all of your coming along for the ride. Right now, my arty making and our life at Sams Creek is poised on the brink of a massive change (that you've heard me hint of repeatedly), so looking back on the series of 'beginnings' has reminded me of all that I am grateful for and given me greater confidence to face the challenging uncertainty of the hard work ahead....

* ps next time I share 'beginnings' I will be looking forward, not backwards.... I've got lots to share in the next while....



  1. ndulge away, Ronnie. I, for one, am fascinated and not a little intrigued at what might be coming...

  2. can't wait!! your home is beautiful

  3. ...and very easily found.... turn left 200m past the Sams Creek sign in the top photo...

    all bloggy friends welcome!

  4. Loved reading this, Ronnie. Especially loved those old photos with the weirdo color, we've all got them and they are instantly identifiable by that faded-out color. You are so lucky to have your childhood dream come true, but lordy, what a lot of work it was. You are one tough little birdie, you are. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi Rhonda,

    I have such a lovely time finding {via Facebook} your gorgeous blog and reading about your life and seeing Mary and Brian in their younger days. I remember, so vividly, the old school bus days. They were the nicest bus drivers any child could have ever wished for. Your mum always had a huge smile, hello and chat ready to make my morning sparkle.
    I sooo loved reading about your home. I do interior design work and I've also got a little 'project' I'm working on that I'd love to chat to you about, if you're interested. My email is:

    I'll be back here reading, for sure:) Kind wishes Kim Houssenloge

  6. That's a pretty amazing story Ronnie! not too many people set their sights on a home from such a young age...and wind up getting it! You certainly deserve an A+ for persistence! I can really see how deeply rooted in place you are and why your art has turned in that direction.
    And like the others, I'm dancing from foot-to-foot in anticipation of what's coming next...

  7. How wonderful to finally have your house. I have a similar dream about our old farm house (which unfortunately won't be mine one day) so I have really loved reading this post.

  8. Loving this, Ronnie, and like the others I'm fascinated and dying to know what happens next. My kids and I didn't get the old family farm house - I'm over it now, I think, but it has taken years of 'what ifs?' and 'I wish...' - and thankfully we're very happy with our lives and houses now. Your story is wonderful, your house is beautiful, and if I'm ever down your road I'll be ringing you to see if I can visit.

  9. so lovely to hear from you kim (I've always thought my folks were rather special... but its so lovely to hear other people say so too - thanks) we'll have to catch up sometime very soon

    and talking catch up - don't forget the sams creek gate is (usually) always open....

    all bloggy friends welcome (that means you in particular carol - I expect to see you driving up the road one day!)


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx