Concentric Circles

2013.08W.36Sepia Saturday says  ‘Some times you just need to be alone. You need space , space to think, space to breathe, space to contemplate your place in the great scheme of things’  Well there’s plenty of space in this photo which involves a visit to the river to escape the relentless heat.

Hay river 1924This boat  is  on  the  slowly moving  Murrumbidgee River  at Hay in south-western  New South Wales. In 2013  Hay recorded a maximum temperature of 47.7 °C (117.9 °F) but the average temperature for January, the hot month, is 33.0 °C (91.4 °F).  This family album photo was taken in  1924 and the people, protecting themselves from the sun with hats or scarves or towels aren’t identified but it could possibly be the two Rawnsley children with their parents But whoever they are  they are connected with Tom Tansey, the town-hopping bandmaster who brought a book on Shakespeare with him when he came from England in 1888.

Think of concentric  circles.  At the centre we have this drifting boat. The first circle is the Murumbidgee River, the second circle is the small town of Hay and the third circle covers  the agricultural district  near Hay and the wide open plains of the Riverina. It’s quite a long way from the bigger cities of Australia.

It is 1924, the year after Tom Tansey left Hay to move to Castlemaine. The First World War has been over for a few years but its effect is still felt in this district.

My interest in the photo comes from the fact that these people are living in a town which has had a town brass band since  1897 ,  and the unique place the town held  in World War I in Australia.  They had one of the highest losses in any community in Australia – from the 641 men who enlisted for service   one sixth of them were killed, over 100 young men missing from the post-war community.

This is shown in this brief film clip from Australian Screen, made in 1993.  I know that the big  award-winning brass bands are beautiful to listen to.  But I just love the small town brass bands, the mixture of young and old players, the variety of skills, the pleasure that they give to their listeners. The film clip then takes you back to the band farewelling the volunteers in 1914, sending them off in a train which doesn’t look as though it is usually used for  passengers, taking them off to fight a war on the other side of the world.

Enjoy Hay’s band in its wide brown space.

We will have music wherever we go.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

- Dorothea MacKellar, c1907

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11 thoughts on “Concentric Circles

  1. Anonymous

    A very evocative picture of the Murrumbidgee with the high banks – definitely a hot day and it would be nice to be in the river

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  2. TICKLEBEAR

    A splendid photograph to kick off this post.
    I was amused indeed by the diversity of players in the current band,
    but that look back to those off for WW1,
    knowing that one in six would not return…
    How sad…
    Nicely put together my dear!! :)
    HUGZ

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  3. Jo Featherston

    A wonderful photo, but the heat is palpable – it actually looks like a haze rising from the river in the foreground. The occupants of the boat are doing their best to keep cool, except for the girl at the end who doesn’t even have a hat. Surprising that they would take a small child with them or such a day, but perhaps there was no other option. The film clip is great too. There is a very good Australian guitarist called Bruce Mathiske who plays a very evocative piece called Toward Horizons on one of his albums, and in the intro he mentions the Hay Plains. It’s almost enough to make me want to drive out there accompanied by his music, but not quite – it’s a long way!

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