‘…Gary Blinco is a competent and entertaining writer who tells his story simply, without pretence, and in colourful language when the circumstances warrant. It is a thoroughly entertaining read…’ — Reveille Magazine
‘…A book that doesn’t beat around the bush…’ —Toowoomba Chronicle
‘…There have been countless books written theorising on the power of positive thinking – this book is a living example written in an entertaining way…’ —Terry Mellington – Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Australian Infantry (retired)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Blinco grew up in the bush on the Darling Downs in Queensland during the fifties
and early sixties. His large family existed in poverty stricken and primitive
circumstances in those days, and the author credits his harsh beginnings with
his insight into landscapes and the human condition. He is also a Vietnam
Veteran, having completed two tours of duty as an infantry soldier after being
conscripted during the National Service era of the late sixties and early
His first two books, ‘Down a Country Lane’ and ‘The Wounds of
War’ are largely about soldiering during the Vietnam War. But his writing also
deals in sensitive terms with personal relationships, including conflict on and
off the battlefield, and romance, which provides a refreshing contrast against
the harshness of military combat. In this sense the books offer more than just a
blood and guts war story.
has four more books now in an advanced stage of development and these are
planned for release during the next two years. ‘Under the Harvest Moon’, is
a romantic murder-mystery novel set against the backdrop of the first bulk wheat
harvest on the Darling Downs in 1957. The book provides an entertaining journey
across a spectrum of history, mystery and romance during a time of rapid change.
is the first of two books on ‘The Mystical Swagman’. The books follow the
experiences of an orphan boy of mysterious origins who develops mystical powers
while tramping the wallaby track with two old swagmen. The books give an insight
into the bush and early colonial Australia.
Place in Time’ is a novel about Australia being invaded by another country,
somewhere in the near future. The lead character is Ian Lane, a middle-aged
business executive who decides to retire early and concentrate on his writing
career while taking his wife and child on a caravanning trip around Australia.
They are camped by an isolated waterhole in the remote central northern outback
when the invasion begins. An alliance of countries to Australia’s north
strikes swiftly from within and without, bringing the nation to its knees in a
matter of hours. The defence forces are crippled, highways are closed,
communication systems are taken down or closely monitored, curfews are imposed
and all aircraft are grounded. Australia’s allies sit back and take a
is a Vietnam Veteran and he longs to take some action to help save his country
as he watches helplessly while great convoys of invading troops swarm down the
central highway. Then by chance or destiny he finds a fissure through a wall of
desert rock that takes him 252 years into the future. There he finds an ally and
access to technology that will help him in his quest to serve his country; and
he gains a glimpse at the future that gives him hope for the present. He also
finds a new but impossible relationship that inspires and confuses at the same
these later works are a departure from the author’s usual genre, they are
still set in the Australian bush environment that the author knows so well.
Again, the books capture the wonders of the Australian bush.
Gary works in sales and marketing in the financial services industry and lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales.
READ A SAMPLE:
is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a
Douglas Jerrod, ‘A Land of Plenty’
new day climbed the eastern sky as the first fingers of sunlight fell across the
land and washed the scrub in deep rusty hues. The old wagon creaked and rattled
softly as it inched along, the ironclad wheels describing erratic double lines
in the frost-covered grass on the track that receded away in the gloom. A large
grey Clydesdale horse, advanced in years and clearly the worse for wear, rocked
from side to side as it pressed through the emerging dawn with its burden. The
metallic rattle of the harness chains seemed out of place on this cold
winter’s morning in 1948, mingling as it did with the songs of the waking
birds in the trees.
wagon bumped slowly over the rough track that followed the passage of least
resistance through the thick scrub, meandering like a watercourse among the
trees. Long morning shadows slid across the back of the old bally horse as it
struggled along with the laden vehicle, its great hoofs thudding on the moist
earth with a monotonous rhythm. The ancient animal leaned tiredly into the
traces, snorting loudly in frequent protests and blowing clouds of steam from
its greying nostrils. Tall gum trees crowded both sides of the lane like a guard
of honour, their branches sometimes meeting overhead, creating a natural arch.
raw-boned country children aged from about five to eleven years dozed quietly in
the back of the wagon, their sleepy eyelids fluttering against the first light
of day. A smaller child of about ten months slept soundly in the arms of a thin,
pale woman who sat on the front seat of the wagon. She shared the seat with a
solidly built man who guided the old horse down the lane with practised ease.
His pale green eyes peered from below a battered old felt hat that hung low over
his deeply tanned face, his gaze dreamily searching the bush that drifted slowly
past. A mob of kangaroos peered back at him from a little clearing; heads high
and backs ramrod straight, their ears erect until the wagon creaked out of
the lane dipped sharply, crossed over a gully beside a derelict wooden bridge
and emerged on the other side in a broad clearing. It was full daylight in the
clearing, the brightness hard in the eyes of the travellers as they emerged
unexpectedly from the gloom of the thick scrub. The children stirred, looking
around eagerly as they shook off the lethargy of sleep. The old horse lifted its
head and blinked in surprise at the changed terrain, its great chest heaving and
its muscles trembling with the effort of crossing the gully as the man drew back
firmly on the reins.
the man said proudly, pointing with the handle of his whip and removing his
battered old hat to release a mop of unruly black hair. ‘There she is.’ A
smile danced on his thin brown face, as he looked expectantly at the children,
keen to see their reaction to the scene before them. He grinned at the
fair-skinned and pretty woman who sat beside him on the front seat of the wagon.
She returned his smile and squeezed his hand, her pale blue eyes alive with
pleasure. She did not speak but her bright face revealed her happiness.
eager offspring crowded forward in the wagon, squealing excitedly as they pushed
and shoved to follow the man’s direction. Together they stared at the outline
of the small cottage that was almost obscured by the thick morning mist. A ghost
of a house in a swirl of grey fog, it sat peacefully on the far side of the
clearing with the early morning sun shimmering on the rust mottled surface of
the corrugated iron roof. The blanket of fog rolled back as they stared,
unveiling their new home and burning a collective image into their young minds
that would endure forever.
excitement overcame their awe as the lifting fog afforded them a clear view of
the old house. It was quaint and small, but it seemed large, the stocky man
reflected, after the tent on the public reserve where they had been living for
several months. His mind wandered back to the reserve as he watched his children
take in their surroundings from the wagon. They had not been alone in their
depravation; a number of families were reduced to living in makeshift humpies or
tents on public reserves, enduring a legacy of hardship left over from the war
and the depression.
reserve was a few miles out of the town and the camp offered very basic
amenities to the sorry collection of people who had been thrown together by
poverty, or displaced from their homelands by the ravages of war. There were a
few communal outbuildings, some foul smelling pit toilets, and a handful of iron
tanks that supplied drinking water to the small community, provided the local
council remembered to refill the tanks. They often forgot and the community was
forced to draw brackish, stagnant water from the nearby creek in order to
people living on the reserve were very poor, earthy in disposition and drawn
from diverse cultures, but the community was close and the friendships formed
were deep and enduring. These modern-day squatters were the ‘salt of the
earth’ some said, eager as they were to put the war behind them and to build
new lives for their families. A number of the men had actually fought in the
war, many of the women had also served in some direct capacity, and all were
touched by it in some way. The primitive conditions of the camp were a small
price to pay for those who for years had longed for peace and a new beginning.
Great Depression and the years up until the end of The Second World War had
brought severe hardship to many, including this family it seemed. Norm Blinco
smiled quietly to himself as he reflected on the past few years of poverty and
hardship. He now had a small farm and a degree of independence and the future
looked much brighter. He eased the old horse eagerly towards the cottage,
cutting it gently with the whip as if these next few yards would take him across
an invisible threshold and away from the bitterness of the past.
children squealed with delight as they approached the house, excitedly pointing
out items of interest as great shafts of sunlight fell over the farm. They
romped about in the back of the wagon until it rocked precariously, drawing a
word of caution from the man. It was cold as he drew the tired horse to a
grateful halt in front of the house, and little white clouds of steam rose from
had left Millmerran in pitch darkness, the children wailing against the bitter
cold and crying for the warm beds they had given up with the tearful regret of a
baby leaving the womb. But Norm had prevailed and they slipped quietly out of
town before the first hint of dawn lit the eastern sky. The week with Norm’s
mother in Millmerran had excited and spoiled the children and they were
reluctant to leave. They had enjoyed living in a real house, sleeping in beds
with crisp clean sheets and eating regular and appetising meals.
wife, Grace, had enjoyed the experience somewhat less. She felt overpowered and
resented by her mother-in-law; the older woman’s disapproval seemed to ooze
like venom in her words and acid in her eyes, though Norm said she imagined it
all. But she longed to move to the farm permanently, to escape to the freedom of
the bush where she could raise her children as she saw fit, and to smoke and
swear without censure if she felt the need. But as they had to progressively
move their belongings from the reserve to the farm in the small wagon, a week
with in-laws was the only sensible alternative. Reluctantly she agreed to the
arrangement, as long as it was only for one week.
fifteen-mile journey in the wagon took several hours and Norm paced the old
horse to arrive at just the right moment. He wanted his family to have their
first sight of the farm in the early morning so they could share the experience
he had enjoyed so often. Now he looked at their bright faces and smiled in quiet
satisfaction. He had spent the last week carting numerous wagon-loads of the
family’s meagre belongings to the farm, usually arriving just on dawn to
savour that first glimpse of the cottage through the fog.
was a special magic about the place as the sun kissed the tops of the trees and
reflected from the iron roof of the house. The world appeared to linger
uncertainly between night and day for a short time and Norm felt disconnected
from his life as he savoured the blessed interlude – a short span of truce
from trouble. He had frequently passed the farm as he worked on various
labouring jobs in the area over the years, and slowly he had begun to own the
smallholding in his dreams and in his heart. Now, at last, the dream was a
white frost covered the ground and a soft cobweb of mist hung in the gum trees
along the creek that ran through the property. Ancient gums stood along the
banks with their toes in the water, with crowns of pale leaves suspended on
off-white torsos and long branches outstretched like a priest blessing the land.
Knotty mops of mistletoe hung down to the surface of the stream like locks of
hair, green, red and yellow strands that bobbed little ripples that spun
relentlessly towards the banks. Hundreds of birds greeted their arrival with the
most beautiful songs the children had ever heard and they were soon trying to
imitate them, their childish voices raised in giggling magpie warbles. Showers
of white cockatoos screeched in outrage as they swept away across the morning
sky with wings beating the cold air, their flitting shadows racing across the
landscape in a dark censure against these human invaders who had appeared in
the town, everything out here in the bush appeared so peaceful and fresh. Norm
sat quietly in the wagon with his arm around his wife’s shoulders, his eyes
roaming about the farm as he eagerly drank in its every detail. The garden was
an overgrown mess, choked with weeds as nature fought to recover its own, and
some of the rooms in the quaint old house had been filled to the rafters with
wooden packing cases. The cases had
probably been used by the previous owners to pack the vegetables they had grown
in the large garden that was still in evidence, despite the weeds. Norm had
intended to remove the cases before the family arrived, but time had escaped
him. Now he decided to put the older offspring to work on the task instead.
climbed down stiffly from the wagon, rubbing his hands together briskly against
the cold before helping his wife and children to the ground.
he said. ‘Let’s get to work! You big kids get those boxes out of the house
and stack them beside the shed.’ He pointed to a broken down shed built from
rough iron-bark slabs that propped up a peaked roof of rusty flat-iron, a pine
door on leather hinges covered the entrance.
can sit on the tailboard and nurse the baby until we get the house clear, then
we’ll light the stove and cook up a feed.’
he worked, Norm wondered how long the house had been vacant because he could
never remember seeing any sign of life on the farm over the years, and there was
an air of neglect about the place. Constructed of cypress pine weatherboards,
the house was without lining or ceiling, the bare corrugated iron of the roof
sat nakedly on the stark ribs of the rafters, and the internal walls showed the
skeleton of the building. Like many bush homes, the house had never seen paint,
and it would probably stay that way for many more years.
cypress pine walls were blackened by the weather and brown rust bled from around
the nails to stain the iron roof and spread like spidery wounds down the
weatherboards. Two wooden shutter style windows at the side of the house were
closed, like sleeping eyelids. It was almost as if the house had been waiting
for someone to come along and wake it from a long sleep. Norm proudly opened the
windows on their push out poles and the house seemed to come to life and to say
‘welcome’ as the sunlight probed through the cobwebs into the dark interior.
He could hear birds walking about on the roof, their feet clattering and
squeaking on the corrugated iron.
stood framed in the window for a moment and winked through the opening at his
wife as she sat on the tailboard of the wagon, struggling to control the excited
child in her arms.
up you,’ she said, smiling, ‘I
can’t hold this little shit much longer.’
grinned and disappeared briefly into the darkness of the house before emerging
with a pile of wooden boxes that he manhandled awkwardly into the yard and
stacked roughly against the old slab-walled shed. Grace gazed sleepily around
the farm and took in the few overgrown fruit trees that were scattered about the
place. A bush lemon leaned tiredly against the small shed, as if the two were
providing silent mutual support to one another. An apricot tree grew near the
back door of the house and a line of peach trees marched majestically up the
driveway from the front gate. The
gate hung open, leaning rather dejectedly on its sagging hinges.
pretty little trellis formed an archway from a small gate near the shed up to
the front of the house, and a pale green grapevine, starved of water, covered
the trellis. An old rusted-out water tank sat
uncertainly on top of an elevated stand, presumably at one time designed to
supply water pressure to the house. The stand leaned slightly towards the creek
as it rose on stout wooden poles from the overgrown lawn. Some curious
kookaburras sat on top of the tank with their heads tilted to one side as they
observed the movements of the family below. Apparently amused by the new
presence, they exploded in spontaneous laughter. Delighted, the children laughed
along, their childish giggles joining the birds in their mirth.
arses,’ Norm yelled, shaking his fist at the birds and failing to see the
joke. ‘I’ll show you in time, we’ll see who laughs last in this story.’
Norm opened the doors and windows of the house, the older children moved the
remainder of the packing cases outside. The youngest child, a boy aged about ten
months, waited impatiently in his mother’s arms, apparently eager to go inside
and explore the house with the rest of the children. Norm exchanged frequent
happy glances with his wife as he worked, testing her reaction to the new
surroundings and beaming with pleasure as he took in her obvious acceptance.
had endured some tough times during the dark years that had somehow been lost to
the war, and for them the hardship had continued long after the war. Not for
them the joyous homecomings of the conquering heroes, or the soldier’s land
grants and the indulgence of an adoring population. Norm had not served in the
forces, but he did not begrudge the returning servicemen their accolades, God
knew they had suffered enough. Nor did he regret his own decision not to serve
directly, but he often felt driven into the background and overshadowed by the
hype over the war, and strangely guilty over his seemingly selfish little
while he had not donned a uniform, it was impossible to escape the impact of the
conflict. The world had gone mad, he always thought, because everyone became so
singularly focussed on the war that nothing else seemed worthy of attention. One
was either fighting in the war, or working on some endeavour that had no other
purpose than to fuel the military monster that consumed everything in its path.
plan to own a little farm and sideline himself from this madness was something
he could never openly discuss with anyone, because he feared the recriminations
of ‘selfish’ and ‘unpatriotic’ that would erupt from every quarter. But
now he felt free to contemplate a new life on his own little farm, and
independence from the relentless heartbreaking search for work and purpose that
had plagued his past.
had scrimped and saved through the war years and beyond to buy the small farm,
supported by Norm’s parents who had enjoyed some modest success in the saw
milling business. His parents reasoned that the responsibility of developing the
property would be good for him, and that it would force him hard up against his
shortcomings and make him grow. He had
been a bit wild during the war years he realised. Unruly, headstrong and
fiercely independent, he often threw in a precious job on a whim, and he knew
his parents did not regard the small fair woman as the best catch for their son.
came from poverty-stricken stock and appeared too earthy for their taste, and
while they knew they were not wealthy and cultured themselves, they still had
hopes that he would marry into some promise of a better future. They were
disappointed too when the newly weds bred like rabbits from the beginning,
apparently exercising little caution in their procreation as they spawned
children into a life of certain poverty and hardship.
a knot in the bloody thing for God’s sake,’ his father implored after each
pregnancy announcement, but the breeding went on regardless. Norm smiled at his
wife as he remembered and a surge of desire for her seized him as he watched her
sitting quietly on the tailboard of the wagon, looking beautiful in the dawn
light he thought.
were both aged only in their late twenties and already they had five kids. One,
a girl they called Evyonne, had been burned to death in the open fire at the
reserve, reinforcing the grandparent’s view that they were having too many
children too soon. The memory of the small screaming child engulfed in flames
burdened the young woman with a tremendous guilt that she would carry to her
grave. It was an accident of course, though some said it was bound to happen
given the living conditions at the time.
no amount of reassurance from all those around her could appease the regret that
she felt. Her guilt gnawed at her heart with a constant dull ache that seemed to
give her a greater focus on the other children, as if her loss had been a
warning to be a better mother in the future. Breeding and mothering became her
chosen lot in life, and she knew she would defend her brood to the death if
necessary, like a mother hen with a clutch of chicks at her back and under her
wings, cornered in the pen by a fox.
nothing could bring back the child who fell into the open fire. No amount of
guilt and tears could undo the horrible burns that covered the tiny body. No
power could clear her mind of the smell of burning flesh and clothing, and the
hopeless screams of pain that followed her down the years. The child suffered a
slow and painful death, lingering for several weeks before she finally succumbed
to her burns and died. The woman cushioned her grief somehow by bearing more
children, as if to make up for the loss through sheer volume. The babies came
almost every year until now she had five – and only God knew how many she
would have by the end.
old farm rested in a sweeping bend of the Grass Tree Creek, a stream that was
just a lazy string of waterholes under the towering gums at the moment. Later
they would learn that it could become a raging torrent when flooded, or a
procession of stinking stagnant ponds in a drought. The creek rose near the tiny
village of Leyburn then meandered through flat, rich black soil farmland until
it joined the Condamine River on the main Toowoomba to Millmerran road near the
small town of Brookstead.
about fifteen acres, the farm was small for the area because most properties ran
to six or seven hundred acres at least. Even these larger farms had originally
been part of Yandilla Station, a huge holding that once covered a great expanse
of Southeast Queensland along the Condamine River. The soil on this little farm
was rich and black and perfect for growing vegetables, provided there was water
of the older locals told Norm that the farm, known as Eastville Yandilla, had
once been a shepherd’s outpost. In the early days an ancient Chinese shepherd
had occupied it for many years. The old shepherd had asked the station owners to
set up the area around the creek for growing fresh vegetables, a scarcity in
those days. They agreed and laid an area of about one-acre with underground
irrigation pipes, fed by a wind pump from a deep waterhole in the creek.
wind pump would have been functional but unreliable and, long before the new
owners arrived; a four-inch pump that required some form of engine power had
replaced it. Norm always referred to the deep water hole in almost hushed and
reverent tones as the ‘pump hole’. He often boasted to all who would listen
that it had never gone dry, even in the ‘big drought of thirty-two’.
pump fed the water from the creek through an underground pipe system into above
ground spray lines. The spray lines rested on wooden props and could be rotated,
allowing a wide area to be irrigated by each one.
The above ground pipes were usually removed when the land had to be
cultivated, and the underground lines had been buried about two feet deep in the
ground. This allowed the soil to be tilled without the risk of fouling the
cultivators or damaging the pipes.
story goes that when the Chinese shepherd became too old for regular work, the
station owners surveyed off the farm and gave him title to the small plot. The
retirement gift carried an understanding that he would continue to produce
vegetables for the station for as long as he was able to do manual work.
This act seemed very generous to some that heard the story, but fifteen
acres was nothing to people who had tens of thousands of acres. Norm could never
verify the tale of the shepherd, but as it accounted for the unusually small
size of the farm he took it to be true. Besides, he liked the story – it gave
a sense of history and triumph over adversity.
farm and the surrounding properties were covered in scrub, except for about ten
acres of cultivation around the old farmhouse itself. This made the place look
like an oasis set in a desert of thick brigalow scrub that was interspersed with
tall gums and stunted wattle trees. The scrub abounded with plenty of native and
introduced animals. Kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, goannas, hundreds of species
of birds and parrots and an assortment of snakes. Gaunt wild looking cattle and
sheep shared the bush with the natives, the farmed beasts almost as feral in
appearance and disposition as were those other foreigners, the foxes and hares.
Blinco felt happy. He had passed this small farm so many times over the years as
he laboured about the area, always dreaming of one day owning the place. Now
with the dream in his grasp he knew he was going to like living at the farm. The
children were lucky too he thought, being too young to have any past or to
remember the war. Their lives were as clean slates waiting to be written, and he
saw this little farm as the perfect place for them to build some memories and
prepare them for the world. Norm had a sweet vision of the years ahead as they
stretched out before them, and for now he could brook no ill wind.
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(c)2003 Zeus Publications All rights reserved.