I sat today trying to think what would perhaps be my earliest memory that was a true memory and not something that had been told to me by my family and I think the very first real memory was of helping Mum and Dad fight a fire on the outskirts of our farm. We lived in Narrikup which is in the deep south of Western Australia and just north of Albany.
This would be about 1936/7 when I was 4 or 5 (probably 5 I would think). There was quite a bad bushfire and it was burning on the outskirts of some paddocks on our farm. I couldn't of course be left at home on my own with the risk of a wind change etc., so off I went with Mum and Dad to 'help' fight this fire.
What I do remember is being given small branches (more like large twigs) with which I was told to put out any little spot fires along the edge of the paddock. I can vividly remember doing that and am sure it was never told to me before I actually asked the folks about it. A true memory. Fortunately the fire was put out and no damage was done to property or livestock.
Owing to Mum's ill health we left the farm just before I turned 6 and although I've often tried to remember other things I can only surmise that I had a happy childhood with no bad memories so not a lot of memories. I hope that makes sense. I do remember the big stand of pine trees nearby and loving to walk under them and feel the crunch of the needles under my feet. The farm was named "The Pines" for obvious reasons.
I do very vaguely remember the geography of the farm and there were cows, the gentlest of which I was allowed to milk. I think I probably managed to get enough for the cat to have a saucer of milk. I also remember there was a lovely old grey horse called Bonnie. I am told I used to sit on her back and I feel I may remember doing that or was I just told I did. I also think I remember the cat or did Mum tell me all about him sitting in my high chair and joining us for meals at the table.
It is often in my mind what would have happened had Mum not been ill and we'd stayed on the farm. Would I perhaps have married a farmer and still be down there? Fate changes one's life in many ways and yet I do still quite often think "What if?"