beautiful home


One of the loveliest joys of research is coming across a hidden gem now and again, a glint of the past and shines straight into my soul.

Just now, trawling old newspapers for reflections of men returning from war, I found this tiny snippet of sweetness from Berton Braley – an American, early twentieth-century poet I’d never heard of before – published in the Cowra Free Press, a country paper from central west New South Wales, in 1922.


All of us dream of it,
Seek for the gleam of it;
Distant, afar,
Pore through each book for it
When, if we’d look for it,
Lo, we should find it
Right where we are.

Delvers and hewers all,
Workers and doers all
Patiently plod,
Forging, unknowingly,
Visions that glowingly
Flame on the anvil
Built by God.

View not too jealously
Those who dare zealously
Earth’s broad expanse;
You, who must stay at home,
Toil, love and play at home,
Also are living
Lives of Romance!

What a beautiful little thing it is, and it reminds me of why I write the stories of ordinary people living and loving large in the small places of home.

I often joke about it, saying that I take my readers to all the exotic locations – Lithgow, Nyngan, Hill End, Blayney, Port Hedland, the tumbledown slums of Chippendale – but these places are as romantic as Paris or Prague, when we’re in love.

We’re told from all quarters that romance is escapist, a break from reality, somehow false, too good to be true, too rose-coloured, as if thwarting and want and terror are somehow loftier, worthier subjects for reflection. As if love were ever easy.

Here at The Bend, my home that lies between two tiny dots on the map in the vast expanse that is Australia, I’m in love every day. Even on dull days, hard days, grieving days, romance is the sun on my shoulders. Love, in all its shapes, steadies my heart and focuses my mind. And romance, like a smile or the warmth of kind words, like a line of light, brings me home whenever bleak doubts cloud my way.