I came across a story that makes my mind spin.  There is a school bus service from Urbenville/Woodenbong to Kyogle 5 days a week and Thursday they also have a return 11 am for pensioners.  During lockdown here it was just driver and me on Thursdays, and sometmes one or two ladies.  When most shops except essential foods were shut, shopping took half an hour and had a good chat to the other passenger(s) waiting for 11 am departure.  One lady was about 80 and got on near a place where one of my classmates 70 years ago came from.  Yes, she remembered her. Nice talk. Welsh accent.  Came from Wales 1951 on sponsored settlement program.

When she got off the bus the other passenger briefly mentioned that the lady lived with her son.  She had had a beautiful big homestead up on a hill. Timber, and verandahs all around.  Burnt to the ground two years ago and she got out in her nightie.  Husband was in Lismore Hospital at the time.   I was told this in a hushed whisper.  Then the voice got quieter and she it had been teens from highschool who also rode the bus.  There was a teacher on the bus got off at that place and was so hated that they had come back at night to burn the house down.  There was indeed a rented farm house a few hundred meters away.  But they got it wrong and burnt the homestead down instead.  Then end of story.  So sad and touching I was made aware not to ask.  I did ask another mate lives on the same road.  Never heard of it.  In an email I asked the old classmate from 70 years back.  She knew but said nothing else.

Today was the next Thursday and in the shops I tackled the second passenger – how could kids burn down a house because they thought a teacher lived there??? In this nice quiet place.  I got no answer.  On the bus back the old lady got out and I could see the sons house she was heading and then I noticed the site of the burnt down homestead – flat and charred. I starred at my copassenger.  Who would do that?  Shook her head.  Were they kids too little to realize they had attempted murder?  Were they highschool aborigines from Urbenville??  She blinked.  Oh. Unmentionable.  That is why no trace of news on internet.  Set my mind spinning. 

I tried to imagine the talk.  You white fellas burnt down our homes before.  Yeah sometimes you meant to punish bot you got the wrong homes and the wrong people.  Shrugged shoulders.  No good saying “we respect the traditional owners”.  Starting 200 years ago explorers, pioneers and settlers came through the upper Richmond.  In that era the British mindset treated local aborigines as savages.  Tolerated if they could be enticed into peaceful settlement.  Otherwise hunted out of the area.  Where they “lived” was nothing like a big homestead.  But it had been where they lived.  

I feel deeply sorry for the lovely lady and her husband had their house burnt down.  70 years of memories and treasures.  Had just bought a new expensive piano.  But what some early settlers did was just as hurtful and irrational as what those highschool kids did.  It is a deep and wide gap in failure to bridge cultures.  I think we are generally doing better now.  Hurts when there is jolt from the past.

: https://www.coulterexergy.com/archives/1963

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