I am fascinated by historic places. I am easily absorbed by the details frozen in time. The objects, patinas, handiwork. I took a brochure home with me today from Mayes Cottage and read about the family that called this house their home. Though I had visited and appreciated the Cottage before, it didn't come alive for me until today, when I read about the lives of its inhabitants.
The slab hut in the first photo was home to John and Emily Mayes and their children, Joshua and Ruth, who arrived in Brisbane from England in 1871. This pioneer family went on to have four more children in this hut, before moving into the two-bedroom home they built beside it, called Pleasant Place, and having a seventh child.
It is truly astonishing to think of eight people calling that tiny hut home, while Emily used an open fire to cook and a hollowed-out anthill as an oven. In England, John had been a gardener and Emily a house servant. Here in Australia, they had freedom over their destiny and 321 acres of land, on which they grew fruit, sold lumber and eventually settled into dairy farming.
My children were reminded of the book the 'Little House on The Prairie', and the house that Pa built with his own two hands. Though I'm not sure any of us could truly appreciate the many hardships and practicalities of eight people living in a space the size of a single car garage, especially in an Australian Summer. What luxury a small two bedroom house would have felt!