Friday, January 20, 2012
Walking in their footsteps Part 5: Bourke
For as long as I can remember, stories of Bourke have been discussed in our home, especially by my father's family members. Although it's taken me half a lifetime to reach the place, even though I was born and bred just a casual ten hour drive away from this NSW outback town, I loved being in Bourke. Here are a few pics of our short stay in Bourke.
Back O'Bourke Exhibition Centre
I just have to start this blog entry with a short explanation of this great new exhibition centre. It's well worth the $ they ask for entry to view all the displays which superb. They use contemporary techniques to illustrate Bourke's history; full of colour, loads of old photos of people and places in the area, lots of fun multimedia and a theme of cheekiness in some of the displays as well.
On entry to the centre, Henry Lawson's words greet you: "If you know Bourke, you know Australia". I'm not sure how true that is for everone but one thing's for sure ... for me, I do feel just a little bit more whole now that I've been to the back of Bourke and back again.
Great place to stay - Bourke Riverside Motel
If you like history, antiques, quirkiness, comfy king sized beds and friendly hotel staff, this is the place to stay. Every room is different. Lovely gardens, good restaurant, right near the river. The pictures speak for themselves.
The river was huge when we visited Bourke - at a depth of 12.9 metres. The gum trees looked like they were standing in water up to their necks. It was so wide when we visited that it wasn't possible to see the other side of the river bank.
With two of my great grandparents having sat in this court for bankruptcy in 1886 and 1890, a visit to the court house in Bourke was a must. Sitting inside this majestic old building, where my ancestors would have sat 120 years ago, helped me understand more fully what their lives were like. When I told one of the locals about my great-grandparents going bankrupt in Bourke in the late 1800s, he said, "Who didn't in those days?" Again, being in the place they lived brought some context and background to my ideas of what happened to them. It must have been a challenging place to survive and I think they had to take whatever job they could get their hands on to feed their tribe of nine sons. When her husband died at the age of 45, my great grandmother, Margaret NORTHCOTE (nee RILEY), was left with a big family to support. As far as we know, she worked as a boarding house keeper, a nurse and a midwife to get by.
This is one of the places my great-grandmother worked in the 1880s-1890s, in the days when Dr Sides worked at the hospital. She is recorded as a nurse in the Australasian Medical Directory & Handbook of 1896.
This photo was taken around the time that my great-grandmother worked at the hospital. And below are photos that I took when I visited the hospital grounds. Although the old hospital building was renovated in 2001, it still resembled its earlier facade.
This blogpost is going to get too long if I inlcude all the places we visited in Bourke. So ...
Next blogpost ... Walking in their footsteps Part 6: More Bourke