…on coming home

Cemetery head stone

My husband grew up in Mackay and I grew up in Gympie and we met at The University of Queensland. When we married we eventually lived in the Brisbane suburb called The Gap, which is where we started our family.

When we were courting (does anyone say that now? how old fashioned!) and in our motorcycle-riding youth, we often ventured out to Samford, a rural hamlet in Brisbane’s north-west, and dreamed of what it might be like to live there one day.

When our family started to outgrow our kitsch 1970s home with its flat roof and amber glass – the original kitchen had been a charming black, white and orange laminate with a servery – we wondered if that dream could be realised. No way could we afford property in Samford. No way were we a Samford family. My association, rightly or wrongly, was fancy houses and soccer mums who drove BMWs or four-wheel-drives that never got dirty. So we looked further north, what felt like a tundra away from where we wanted to be.

I found a great property in a place called Mount Samson, ten minutes drive beyond Samford. It had wonderful views and a 100 year old Moreton Bay Fig tree which I fantasised that our children could climb. We submitted an offer beyond what we could afford, and missed out. When the other party’s finance fell through we were invited to resubmit our offer. We missed out a second time. I was devastated. It was clearly not meant to be.

We proceeded to look at other properties in the area. Driving past a particularly green valley I distinctly recall telling my husband that if anything became available *there* I would snap it up in a heartbeat. He agreed it was a special-looking place. Little did we know.

One week later, my search becoming more obsessive, we drove into our current property to inspect. I grabbed hubby’s arm and shivered, a total visceral response that said, ‘Buy it, you belong here’. We didn’t haggle. The price was seventy-thousand dollars less than the previous property we’d bid on. A few years later we built our house, still none the wiser.

When my husband’s mother came to live with us in her elder years, she made a vague comment like, ‘Your father’s family were from out this way,’ and we never talked about it again.

There is a nearby cemetery with some pioneer graves. Walking through the old cemetery is like taking inventory of all the local street names. Orginally occupied by the Yagura people (there’s a bora ring on our street), Mount Samson was colonised by German pastoralists in the 1870s. Once timber was cleared, dairy farming was established. Later, banana plantations were an important crop. Pineapples are still grown here today, though for how much longer? This isn’t a farming area anymore.

So imagine my surprise to discover a gravestone in the Samsonvale cemetery bearing my husband’s unusual German surname. What a co-incidence! I took a picture and promptly forgot about it.

Years later, hubby took the children to the Samford Museum where they were drawn to a display about our local primary school – the one they all attended and where I was a member of the P&C for a ridiculous twelve years running. Flipping though the founding student roll for Mount Samson State School, there was the name of my husband’s grandfather: his mother and father were on the head stone I’d photographed. A search on Ancestry.com revealed he was a member of a local group of youth known as ‘The Basin Boys’. Did I mention we live on Basin Road? In fact, the other end of our street is called Kriesch Road and we found another reference to my husband’s (we now know) Great Aunt who married into the Kriesch family. Kriesches still live there today. They’re quite possibly second cousins. We haven’t met them yet.

I may have grown up in Gympie, but this is our forever home. My roots go deep and I feel I understand, superficially, what our Indigenous brothers and sisters call a spiritual connection to the land. If I were forced to leave this place, it would injure my soul. Deep respect to the people who were here before us. I’m hungry to know more. It would seem the universe somehow conspired to send us *home*.

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