d. Chapter 4 : A very messy head

Now I’ve done it – I’ve totally overwhelmed myself with information this Easter weekend and I don’t really know where to start.   I went to Echuca Saturday.  First I photographed the wrong house in Koyuga.  Then at Mum’s I took pictures of Margaret’s jewellery that Mum has.  Then on Easter Sunday morning we went to the cemetery and found various family graves.  That afternoon Mum and I  went to Rainee’s and left with 4 bags of correspondence from historian cousin Pam Robbins and multitudes of photos to scan. Pam is a descendant of Albert Fegan, Margaret’s brother.  I took some photos of some of the Truro homestead items Rainee has, as well as more jewellery.  Rainee, Mum and I went back to Koyuga, found the right house, obscured by trees, the plaque where the school was and the site of the old hall, shop and the intersection where the railway station was. That night I waded through the bags and the piles and scanned documents and photos for 2.5 hours.  Then Easter Monday Mum, Rainee, William and Elliot and I went to Bagshot to visit the house – with its owner of 12 years Pip Byrne.

So – where to start?

I’ve emailed Pam Robbins,  because she wrote a beautiful piece on Matilda and John Fegan (Margaret’s parents) I would like to use. It would make sense to start there.   Hmmmm.  But a reply could take a while.

A messy head is anathema to a control freak,  as is messy, non chronological writing.  I’m trying to let go of that control freak thing though,  so I shall just charge on and see how it comes out.

Foremost in my mind is the experience of being in the house again.  As we drove around the corner I was thinking.  “Oh my….. there it is!”

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As we drove in – this was the sight we saw.

Mum, Rainee and I all felt comfortable there and all could sense Margaret with us.  Pip says there’s a couple of “presences” there.  Her daughter has seen someone in the front bedroom (Margaret’s old room).   Pip herself has seen a stout lady in a long navy or brown dress with a bun on her head – possibly 50 or 60 walking quickly “on a mission” past the back of the old kitchen.

The house outline was very similar, it’s now a soft beige with a plain Zinc roof.

Every part has been replastered and some walls moved,  many of the original floor boards were able to be used – none of which we ever saw as they were always covered up, with lino or carpet.  They had polished up beautifully. They looked like baltic pine.  The kitchen, dining area didn’t feel original – very little of the original house was in it.  Just the outline and the pressed tin for the splashback.

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This was the pressed tin that was originally above the Dado in the hall.

  Part of the lounge had been taken for the kitchen and pantry.  This was the main living space for the Byrne family and faced north with french doors and windows which catch the light.    Half of the old  bedroom which was off the bathroom (Duncan’s childhood room) was now a bedroom and the other half a bathroom (which probably makes no sense at all).

Once we entered the hall though nostalgia and emotion flooded in.  Rainee first saw the old front door where Pip has inserted glass etched with the word “Truro”.

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So lovely to see.

The seven foot wide hall was there in all it’s glory. The fretwork was gone and all of the pressed tin,  Pip said the fret work seemed to cut the hall in half and the tin did not come off the walls well and was full of holes.

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The original hall.  Rainee in the picture – 12 years ago.  Just prior to moving.

The first lounge was smaller (due to the kitchen changes) but oh so lovely not painted horrible blue and with the art deco double doors gone.  I did miss the fireplace, but not the lounge window into the sleep out!

We then walked through into the formal lounge which was beautifully furnished in period style and the windows even more beautiful with their new dressings.

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It always was a delightful room.

On then to the second hallway to the bedrooms.  The plaster work connecting the bedroom hall with the main hall was previously a semicircle, now faithfully echoing the connection between the old cottage and the extension in a trianglular formation.  The bedroom windows, doors and doorknobs were original and it was very nice to see the front bedroom with a straight floor after years of dodgy stumps in Echuca Village! Pip had reused some of the pressed tin in the bathroom – also done in Period style.

Rainee confided to us that she used to spend some time polishing her brass doorknob just to see how it gleamed.

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Rainee’s (now Amelia’s) doorknob.

The weatherboards were near original.  I’d forgotten about the notched boards on the lower section.  The whole verandah was new but in faithful style with iron lace instead of fretwork and the boards running along instead of outwards.

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A similar angle to the header image.

Pip then showed us a video taken of the old house just before it was moved.  This reinforced the changes and the sad state the poor old house had been in.  She said that she tells people that the house has had two families, firstly the Hicks family, then the Byrnes.

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It was a moving (and healing) experience to be able to be there and see it so loved and restored.  Thank you Pip.

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