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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Little House Longtime Passing.

Most of the story of Longtime happened before I was born. Yet, because Longtime made me whatever I am, it is my story; & that is the way I must tell it. I must tell it all, even to the earliest coming of the white man to this secret country. Hesba Brinsmead ~ Longtime Passing.Some writers have better publicists than others ~ or something ~ which is the only way I can explain why some books ever even get printed. Sometimes good books get printed yet others, equally good, do not receive the same acclaim or exposure. I guess the public is fickle.

Reading around, especially on homeschooling blogs, I hear again & again how great the Little House books are ~ & they are ~ but they are not the only books out there dealing with pioneering trials & tribulations so I am going to discuss the Aussie equivalent ~ Longtime Passing.

This may interest those who like a compare & contrast because exploration of Australia was a long, slow & painstaking process thwarted by one simple geological fact: The Great Dividing Range.

Without touching on the obscure & little known mishaps of European settlers who may or may not have preceded the founding of Britain's penal colony at Port Jackson in 1788, the first colony was built beside what is now known as Sydney Harbour & for quite some time settlements were built north or south because going west was nearly impossible. From north to south along Australia's eastern seaboard lies that formidable mountain range known as The Great Divide. Not the tallest mountains in the world. Not the most rugged. Not the coldest. Not the most impenetrable. But these mountains proved themselves formidable to would be intrepid explorers.

They may be the oldest mountains in the world. In practical terms this means they are well eroded & when rock is well eroded the soft stuff goes first & only the hard stuff remains ~ leading to deep un~navigable gorges, weird outcroppings, dead ends, blind gullies, & sudden sheer cliff faces. Going in a straight line is not remotely feasible.

Going in a straight line should not be a problem with a good compass but only some~one who has never had the Australian bush close in on them would think that. Long, long history of people lost in the Australian bush & very few are ever found again. For years the Blue Mountains were feared to be completely impassable. Anyway it took until 1813 before Blaxland, Wentworth & Lawson found their way across the Great Divide & things like roads & accommodation were still decades away.

Ah, yes, the Australian bush! Made up predominately of eucalyptus trees, commonly known as *gums*. I believe there are something like 2 000 different varieties though as one English visitor once tartly remarked, having seen one variety, why would you ever want to see another? lol. The thing with gums is they are mostly hardwood. Not easy to hack your way through a forest of eucalypt ~ & that's before you consider that choice variety known as *ironbark* ~ for a reason.

It is into these mountains, this terrain, the Truelance family comes to make their home. The Blue Mountains west of Sydney is some of the loveliest country in the world. The views are breath taking, the Candlebark country its rainforest heart. Just getting in or out was a feat in & of itself. The children, of necessity, did their lessons with mother at the kitchen table.

This story is semi~autobiographical, based on Hesba Brinsmead's own childhood & recollections, in the same way that Laura Ingallss Wilder based her books on her family history. This makes them uniquely authentic & though the time is round about the 1920's the Candlebark area was so isolated & the living conditions so difficult it actually has the feel of a much, much earlier time.

The books are out of print but still available second hand on~line for a quite reasonable price.


Diane Shiffer said...

Thanks so much for the recommendation.. having read my own childhood copies of the Little House books to rags, I'm certain I'd like these books, and being able to contrast and compare the two pioneering experiences would be very interesting.

Always appreciate your book thoughts, m'dear☺

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Never heard of these!! You'd think I should have read them. :]

Jeanne said...

We love these too - both the Little House and the Brinsmead books. Christmas at Longtime is one of our December must-reads!

We love Aussie literature!! (Actually, we love good books no matter where they're from!!)

MamaOlive said...

Well, you know how I hate a good book, so I guess I just ordered one out of respect for you. ;-)
Have you been to My aunt gave me their website; it is a book search site that has thousands of sellers and one easy checkout. All the "Longtime Passing" books were from UK, Oz, or Canada, but buying from a UK seller suits me just fine. Might be a bit less desirable for a USA resident.

Ganeida said...

MrsC: What were you doing while you were out here?

Persuaded & MamaO: I actually think Pastures of the Blue Crane is better. It's my favourite ~ but then I knew & loved the area she writes of in the correct time period. lol. MamaO, just check the themes aren't too old for yours. I don't think there's anything too questionable in there but she touches on themes like racism.

Jeann: I'm a long tome bookworm too ☺

Catherine said...

Thanks so much for the recommendation. It sounds like a great read!

seekingmyLord said...

I will be looking that up. The Princess likes geography so much and is intrigued that I have a friend on the other side of the world, so reading about a family settling in Australia should be quite interesting to her.