by Kim Kelly



I keep promising myself that my next story will take me outside New South Wales, for more than a chapter or two at least, and five books along, this time I really, really mean it. I’m going off shore. But then I pass some rusty old hayshed or decaying house like this one while I’m coming back from the shops or taking a different track into town and the yen to paint this place I call home makes off with my heart once more

I need to know who lived in this roofless, abandoned rubble cottage called Carrington Farm. Why did they make a home here? What did they grow on their land? Potatoes, I imagine. I dive into the archives of Trove and find scant traces. A man called Holland was prosecuted for failing to deal with the rabbits on this property in 1950. In 1921, a Mrs Holland won second place at the Millthorpe Show for her crocheted set of three d’oyleys.

I’m vaguely frustrated that I can’t find more information on this farm, but I’m swept into the homestead with the quaint spelling of d’oyley. How posh. I look again at the photograph I snapped and the tin is suddenly restored to the roof, the cracked clay render patched; the chimney puffs away on this cold autumn afternoon. And now I can see Mrs Holland herself, setting out her best china and decrying the lack of decent domestic help these days. Her wedding band clinks against the handle of the teapot. A conversation begins.

And I have to stop it there, or I’ll wander off with her entirely.

I’m taking to the waves for a time, far away from my usual places of love and curiosity, to test my mettle and taste a different air. I’ll be back, though, Mrs Holland – not a promise but a guarantee.