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Middlewood cover


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Australia in the late 1800s, if lacking in global awareness, was rich in social cohesion. Life was basic and tough for most, a difficult plodding journey that was tolerated. For others; the ruling classes and politicians, those astute in business; these were the halcyon days. Life was looking rosy again. "worth putting up a fight for boys."

Despite lingering on for many families in hushed acknowledgement, Tasmania's convict days were over. The arrival of free settlers of all professions and trades was contributing to a growing population, there was money to be made in farming, mining and timber, the island was opening up again after a long state of depression. Though photography was still in its infancy, posed images of long-lost relatives dressed in their Sunday best, turn up today in leather-bound albums of deceased estates. City library collections can also allow the curious a glance or two back at their sepia coloured world frozen in time.

The outbreak of the Anglo -Boer war in October 1899 called upon young Australian adventurers to join up and join in, and many did. It was a chance to travel, and opportunity to get away for a while and see something of the world. Many of these enthusiastic, uniformed-tourists came home again damaged. Others didn't come home at all. Hardly a dozen or so years later, Britain and its colonies were at war again. This one set Europe ablaze and turned out to be a totally different kettle of fish.

On the morning of april 25th each year the Gallipoli peninsula has become a place to be for many young Australians. To the west, the Aegean sea with its picturesque horizon, was once a backdrop for a mititary blunder and miscalculation of epic proportions. On that day in 1915 a staggered line of battleships and troop transports disgorged thousands of innocent young men into barges, to sit and wait. What were these small vessels with their khaki-clad occupants waiting for? They were waiting for dawn, a first glimmer of light to the east that would be spoken of, written about, and remembered with a mixture of horror and confused pride for the next hundred or more years.

For the ranks of innocents in the barges this Dardanelles sunrise with its future notoriety, was still an hour or so away. So, what would they have been thinking about? How would they have been coping with the cramped conditions sitting there in the boats?

"The fun is over - what happens next?"

Some perhaps; others, the veterans and some less mature, would be pushing negative thoughts to one side and reaching out to the recent and not so recent past, remembering and reliving parental words of advice, in the days before uniforms and weapons-drills. Hasty promises made for a few with young wives, and adventures shared with the long-time mates sitting in the boat beside them. The common thread would be home, and the people and calendar of events that contributed over the many years to the making of that home.

"Middlewood", the story, is an attempt to pay brief homage to a time and a place in Australian history, and the lifestyle and social network of a small Tasmanian rural community in the years before Gallipoli changed everything. This time of rich inheritance is all but forgotten now, despite being only a generation or two away from the flag-draped, anthem-singing young Australians who today stand and wait by candlelight for another anzac Cove dawn.

Brian Harrison-Lever


March 2024

ISBN: 9780975640630

ISBN-10: 9780975640630

Publisher: Forty South Publishing

Publication Date: 03/20/2024 - 12:00am

On Sale: 03/20/2024 - 12:00am

Pages: 258

Language: English