September 30, 2007

30 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The little village atop Brickfield's Hill.

What am I to make of this place? Have freedom and dignity left our paths forever and retired into the forests with the miserable natives? Convicts, criminals, scoundrels mingle and mix, and not only in the prisoners' barracks. Solitude, our own farm, these are the refuges that I seek.
Yesterday's rain ceased early enough for the ground to dry, but I wasn't sure about the River and we foresook the boat to take the carriage home. It's an uncomfortable way to travel, although it is a high-wheeled coveyance, because the road is terrible, only wide enough for one vehicle. Unlike the Governor, I have no out-riders, only my reputation here for fifteen years, and the sure knowledge that whether criminal or free, or native, everyone knows me and, I sincerely hope, thinks of me in a positive manner rather than otherwise.
The road from Sydney runs South down High Street before turning West and heading to Parramatta, climbing first the Brickfield's Hill, then meandering over hill and down dale past some wild scrub, until reaching the bridge over the Duck's River, and we then turn to the North to come at the Farm. Several people have reported concerns along the way, with the bushes concealing escaped convicts and several tribes of natives, althought these latter live nearer to the Sands at Arrowanally, where there is fresh water and food in plenty.
Our journey was without mishap, except that we were bogged for some time on the Brickfield Hill and waited until sufficient men had returned to the work, to assist us to the top. Home now - I was right in not trying to sail home, as the River is raging near here and we would have had a hard walk from near the Sands to the Farm.
The rain is good for the Farm, with spring growth everywhere - the peaches are a mass of flowers, as are the quince, the apples and pears. The cherry trees have finished blossoming and their fruit is setting, but the tiny bees that live here struggle to polinate those trees and we get little fruit from them. The loquats, whose blossom filled our valley with their perfume eight weeks ago, are yellow on their branches and will be the first fruits of the season - already today I have eaten a dozen or more!
The wet weather suits Elizabeth junior and keeps her chest clear. However, I am sick with worry after Sunday's diabolical fiasco - I really feel I should take to bed and stay there. I wrote a brief note for Mary Putland today and, along with a few dozen of our early loquats and some bunches of radishes, sent it to her on the afternoon packet - I do hope she is bearing up.
John and Edward arrived home yesterday and immediately set out again, to the Seven Hills were they'd heard the stream had broken the banks and washed across the sheep paddocks; we've recently moved the Dorset rams there and may God have preserved them.

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