Thursday, 31 January 2013

Miles Franklin

Lately I have had a bit of an obsession with Miles Franklin and all things to do with pioneer Australia.

It started when I picked up a copy of her novel My Brilliant Career, which was first published in 1901 when she was 19. Although the novel is fiction, it has long been speculated that many of the characters in the book closely resemble her family. Born in the Brindabella Ranges (close to Canberra) her family moved when she was little and she grew up in Thornford, approximately 20 kms south west of  Goulburn.

Unfortunately the dwellings on the Thornford property or at Talbingo Station no longer survive so we can only imagine the buildings she grew up in. 

I was interested to learn more about the era in which Miles Franklin grew up (she was born in 1879) so I have visited a couple of dwellings that relate to that time in the region. 

Blundell's Cottage
Blundells Cottage was built in 1860 and pre-dates Canberra. It currently sits in a prime position nestled on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, only a hop skip and jump away from the centre of the city.  When it was built the cottage was close to the Molongolo River (now the lake) and surrounded by paddocks. 

Lounge room in Blundell's Cottage
It is a wonderful example of how life was lived in this tiny cottage, and it contains many  artefacts of the era. Unfortunately though, many of the objects do not relate to the families which lived in the cottage.

If you follow the link it takes you on a virtual tour and you can experience it too. Fun!

The Kitchen at Mugga Mugga Cottage

Next visit was Mugga Mugga Cottage, another stone cottage built in the region in the 1830s. This is wonderfully preserved and all artefacts within the house belong to the Curley family who moved in in 1913, which I think gives greater understanding on how the spaces were used. I love the separate kitchen (kitchens were built separately to prevent kitchen fires burning down the rest of the property) and particularly the 'make do' approach turning fruit crates into shelves which can be seen on the right hand side of the above image. Such innovation. 


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