Well I’m back. And what an adventure it was. Kingaroy is a pretty, propserous town with deep red earth, so fertile that “the posts Grandpa put in to run his beans on sprouted,” as one of my new friends said.
For that’s what the people I’ve met have become, new friends. I was welcomed at the descendant’s comfortable home with a warm hug, curried egg sandwiches with the crusts cut off, iced tea, air-conditioning, and even a sponge cake with strawberries and cream! It wasn’t long before I felt very at home. Their rooms were filled with books and arty knick-knacks and the descendant and his lovely wife were more like a long lost uncle and aunt of my own, than relatives of the man who had killed my great aunt. Before I contacted them, they had no idea of their connection to such a dubious character. It seems their grandmother was a better secret keeper than mine. We sat for hours with papers and photos talking about family, and the undercurrents and depths that lie beneath.
After a night at a local hotel that looked charming, but had me up till twelve with pokies and people, and woken at six with a vacuum cleaner and someone hosing out the beer garden, I met up with Gladys. She’d spent years establishing the local historical museum and organised a school centenary reunion, so knew more stories about the locals than anyone else in town. I even got to ride in her original 1971 Holden, complete with red vinyl bench seats and metal seat belt clasps that took me swirling right back to being six and yelling “belt up!”in the back seat of our own Holden. I treated Gladys to cake and coffee and again we sat for hours talking about secrets and families and what goes wrong despite the best of intentions.
I’ve come away convinced that not one of us escapes family secrets. We all have them, whether they’ve been told or not. The question is, is it better to know, or to remain in ignorance, but still feel the undertow?
Tomorrow I’m off to Swan Creek near Warwick, to search out more living memories and secrets. More when I return. Lots of love, Edwina xx