August 09, 2007

23 January 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The sun, rising over Port Jackson

From when the first glimmer of light appears in the Eastern sky, the natives here commence singing. So far as I can tell it is always the same song, and Bar-ang-aroo Benelong's wife told me it was calling the sun to come up - the song is sung very softly, in harmony and parts, and I have heard the laughing jackass respond with his call to the singing. To hear such a song is to know how far from Home we are and to rejoice in that distance, or at least I rejoice in that. I have no wish to return to England although I support the children's wish for the best schooling - to me, here in Parramatta with the warmth of summer and the soil sprouting its produce after the rains, and the animals in good health, I cannot see why anyone would want to live elsewhere. When we first came here, Mr. Balmain the surgeon took me on a tour of the streets near where the windmill now stands, appealing to my charity I suppose, and we stopped at the home of an old crone, nursing a baby boy at her breast, and Mr. Balmain explained that many women, previously without children, had issue here. I was glad of his honesty as I hate the pretence of protecting we women from all pain and the everyday sights and sounds of humanity - we who give birth! I don't want protecting from my imagination! Mr. Macarthur is very good like that - although he wishes the able hands to manage the flock, and they do, he doesn't object to my work with the rams, keeping the stud books and so on, as he knows that I enjoy it and do it well. The heat is rising again today - I write now first thing in the morning, of hope and expectation - I hope Elizabeth is not distressed by the heat today, and perhaps we will find a place near the river where she and William can play. Now, to work.

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