A farm in Australia?

A continuing memoir.


Son Nicholas and a painting.

The first few weeks from our latest return from French farm-house mania, our friends’ patience would be severely tested and without letting up. Talk about an obsession. I just kept saying; ‘the stone walls in France were that thick’. And I would then demonstrate by spreading my arms as wide as I could. This would be followed by some remark denigrating the flimsy Australian domestic architecture. You know, paper thin walls made of gypsum plasterboard and fibros sheeting. ‘They are mere wind breaks’ I would continue, adding insult to injury or reverse. Helvi, would poke me in the side.

After a few more weeks of insults and self absorption, things would calm down. The photos of French farm houses would be stored away, not to be seen again till recently when the majority of photos that were stultifying and boring got thrown out. We are not photo lookers, and I can’t think Helvi ever took more than a handful of photos, even though she did have a camera. She would leave that to me.  I enjoy taking photos, especially now that you can see the result immediately.

my lovely pizza oven

I remember the excitement waiting for photos to get developed by the photo and camera shop. It would take a week to get hem back, and as for coloured ones; they were send off to Melbourne. The black and white photos were small and had serrated edges. How time and science has now all changed that. Instant gratification in photography is normal, and now the world keeps taking selfies, nauseating really, but I am guilty as well. Go to any public event and one sees a forest of sticks in the air with excitable tourists busy taking selfies. In the next second the picture is forwarded and looked at in Taipei or Amsterdam, immediately. Tourism is really people paying to go somewhere taking selfies and looking at their own  images with the country they are visiting of least importance or at best an extra. Amsterdam and Venice are now desperate to try and get tourism to scale back with the locals feeling they are being trampled upon.

w800-h533-2008019426_9_pi_150224_081333dining room

The Australia farm

I am not sure when I suggested to Helvi we perhaps ought to think of making a move and buy a farm or country place locally, in Australia. It was during the latter half of the 1990’s. There was a kind of feverish ‘break away from the large cities’ movement when the term, city dwellers or townies were starting to be coined for those seeking an alternative life-style. A week-end farmer was another one. Of course the more serious of large scale farmers were called Pitt Street farmers, suggestive of landlords leasing out huge tracts of land for the cattle industries, often managed by real farmers running hundreds of thousands of acreages. The owners themselves were well heeled lawyers doing their utmost to lower their tax obligation while whooping it up in Sydney’s Pitt Street cavorting with crooks, souteneurs (сутенер) with their shady ladies of pleasure…

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19 Responses to “A farm in Australia?”

  1. leggypeggy Says:

    Oy my goodness, you brought back memories. Waiting to get pics back from the chemist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Peggy. They were exciting times. I bought a Kodak box camera from my tips given to me while delivering fruit and vegies before my family migrated to Australia. I had been looking at the camera shop’s display window for weeks longing to buy a camera.
      As for getting my first film back from the developing, I could hardly sleep from the excitement. I loved it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Julia Lund Says:

    I never owned a camera in my youth and consequently have very few photos from those years. A friend I was a school with, now she is retired is methodically having undeveloped films processed ( massively expensive these days). She gave me a copy of one she took when I was in the sixth form, one year into A level courses. I hardly recognised myself, but it has raised memories, like long-forgotten ghosts …

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I look at the photos that have survived and I am amazed how nerdy I looked, so studiously and serious. Cheer up, I feel like saying. Now, at almost eighty and looking back I think ;what was all the fuss about?
      The worst thing you can do is to take it seriously.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Lovely photos to remember. The farm house was beautiful inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the farmhouse was special and so big that when family and kids came over and there were fights they were always far away and one could just ignore the turmoil.
      Wherever we lived the houses and farms were spectacularly nice to live in. It just had to ‘feel’ good as soon as you saw it from outside and when walking in.
      This was Helvi’s doing more than mine. It is a Finnish thing this looking for good design and atmosphere in architecture that works.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Those French farmhouses were probably built a hundred or more years ago, Gerard, built to survive for centuries. Laughed about the selfies. I just mentioned in my post that went up this morning that they are the work of the Devil.
    Never had any desire to be a farmer. Working on farms as I was growing up to earn money, I became acquainted with the long hard days involved. Not that I was adverse to the work, in fact I liked it; I just didn’t want to spend my life as a farmer. Now, living out in the woods, that’s a different issue. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We lived on farms but did not do much actual farming either, Curt. Just liked the space and ‘lebensraum’. It was nice to go outside and see the stars, smell the frost in winter, and listen to the cicadas in summer.


      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        I grew up in a town of about 700 people, Gerard. I could be in the woods in ten minutes. So it was almost like living on a farm. And, now of course I live out in the middle of the woods. My dream. So I really appreciate what you are saying. –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

  5. rangewriter Says:

    Your description of Australian construction compared with French walls reminds me of how similar the US and Australia are. My German relatives always scoff at our flimsy construction, built to survive 50 years, if they are lucky. It is the way of American life. Disposable. Even income is disposable. Our two countries share some of our collectively worst traits, I fear. Including leadership.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, indeed. The latest scandal in Australia is that even new places are so flimsy they start cracking as people are moving in.

      Australia is obsessed with ‘home ownership’ and to enable for the majority to achieve this, the regulations and specifications are to make them as low and cheap as possible. Of course, this cheapness comes at a price but at least people can say; ‘we own our own home.’

      Never mind the house is stinking hot in summer and freezing in winter and the slightest storm and the roof might blow off. We started life in Australia in a ‘temporary dwelling’ made of lethal asbestos sheeting, even though it was already known then to cause cancer.

      It isn’t all gold that glitters, they say.


  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I love seeing these photos, Gerard, and hearing your memories!
    The inside of that farmhouse is so beautiful!
    Nicholas looks happy! Did he paint the painting?
    It’s a blessing when homes are well constructed…meant to last a l-o-n-g time. Too many today are put up so sloppily and with the most inferior products…like cheap doors and windows and flooring, etc. 😦 That’s why I like looking inside older homes and older buildings. 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Carolyn. Yes, that is a lovely photo of Nicholas. He was very funny, and like Helvi had a calm and considerate nature. I miss him daily.
      That farm-house wasn’t all that old but well-built by an architect with a good eye for form and relationship.
      I hope it has been well maintained. What was really charming was the old slab-hut build during the mid/ late nineties. Hugs XXX Gerard

      Liked by 1 person

  7. shoreacres Says:

    Isn’t it funny how we’re always comparing, and often feeling as though what we have is inferior to what others have? Sometimes, the urge to find the perfect place in the world can become pathological. I have an acquaintance who’s moved from state to state frequently, for as long as I’ve known here. There’s always something wrong with where she is, and she just seems incapable of staying put long enough to put down roots.

    I think most of us have fantasized about living in France at one time or another. Most of my friends have, and years ago I engaged in a bit of the fantasy myself. No Paris for me, though! I’d take the French countryside. My real life experience of Paris suggested that if you want “insults and self absorption,” that’s the place to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, there is a lot of truth in what you are saying. I read staggering statistics that shows that on average people in Australia move every seven years. This is mainly to take advantage of real estate prices and fluctuations. We moved just 5 times so far, in 54 years. We never did buy in France, Chili or Argentina.

      We know a number who bought in foreign countries, mainly France or Spain.

      What attracted me to foreign countries that we visited was that people go out and socialise at times when here we wind up the alarm clock and go to bed. Were I live now, it is pitch dark after 9pm, and some saunter around in pyjamas after 5.30pm.
      How is it in Texas, Linda?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. freefall852 Says:

    Ah, Gerard…memories like the flow of rich red wine…Back in the 80’s, I visited my sister who had married an Italian chap and moved to southern Italy to his home village…they are still there…I have wonderful memories of a trip I did there so long ago…I wrote on it a long while back..it ended like this…:

    “My last thoughts of Southern Italy are of crisp, blue-sky’d days, lying under some olive trees on the tarpaulin that we used to pick said olives, unwrapping the fresh linen cloths off the plates of home-cured prosciutto, tasting the pale sheep-milk cheese, slicing off a healthy lump of that ciabata-type continental bread and pouring a glass of rich, home-made red wine from the glass-stoppered bottle and remarking to my brother-in-law that ;

    “There are people in some countries that would pay for the pleasure of doing this, you know?”

    So, in closing, I must remark that if there is a God, and if there is a designed end to the world, and He/She does judge us harshly for our lack of spiritual determination….we can all proudly and collectively point to the art of Italy and cry-

    “Look at this!…at least you can’t say we didn’t try!”…”


  9. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Aaah the French farm house. There is nothing like those old European houses that were built to weather storms and the ages. And, as anther commenter mentioned Americans and Australians are much alike- probably just the accents are different. Here in the states the wealthy build homes much sturdier and the very old homes of New England were made of stone- or very heavy timber since many of those still stand a few centuries later.

    Now days, it is the same as you and Helvi once did, mostly living out in the country but not farming. Maybe a garden or a horse and a few sheep to keep the grass mowed.

    I so enjoy reading about your younger years and I feel it is quite a brave undertaking for you to put it all down for posterity.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, we lived on a farm in Holland when our three children were just toddlers and then again here in Australia when our children were adults.

      We never thought that we would loose two of those adult children and yet overcame the dulling ache in heart and spirit. We remembered the good times and Helvi was strong .

      The Australian farm was more serious with 120 acres and five dams. The droughts were always followed by rain.
      Thank you for your kind reply and your trouble in reading about the younger years. I am now reaching old age but don’t feel really all that old.
      Hope you are well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        I know that it was gut wrenching to lose your beloved children. SO very heart breaking and something that one never gets past completely. I too am old and don’t know how I got to this point in my life.


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