Walgett 1993

We drive past
two large churches

round cement

red slates with apple green
wood walls

run down
caravans with tin shed
attachments

a naked child
drinking juice

dogs everywhere.

Now we stop.

We’re at Nellie’s house
full to the brim of
children.

Nellie smiles
hugs us
and as if she has read
our thoughts on what we have seen
she says:

‘These people await houses
I adopted three children …’

She takes us to visit
the neighbourhood
including her mother who is
a 103

She is calmness
cadence circles

21 November 1993

Reading through the journal entry accompanying this fragment I am struck by the the story of Nellie. We went with another family, the Tais, to meet her. Now I travel back in time and meet her at her front door. In my journal account she emerges as the backbone of her community. She is ‘calmness cadence circles.’ She cares for the sick, avoids bingo, loves fishing, and knows and loves her community.

She had just become a Baha’i and we were visiting her to see what kind of support she needed , and came home so impressed by her family and extended family. We discovered a true world citizen, in a tiny town on the so called ‘fringes of Australian society, ‘ and what’s more she could teach many about the abundance of human spirit, patience, generosity and forbearance.

I find myself wondering what became of the people we met on that trip as shortly after we moved and we never met them again. Yet, they are in my heart and I hope that their lives went well. Walgett, for me will always be somehow spoken through the spirit of Nellie.

(c) June Perkins

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