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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mill child

When I was a child trees were simply there.  But along the banks of creeks and the river on the Upper Macleay trees were much more than that.  My grandfather and great grandfather on my father’s side were second-wave farmer-cedar cutters and they worked in the bush well into old age supplementing the meagre income earned from the dairy farm. My father also worked hauling logs, driving trucks and sitting astride the cat, cutting and shaping the bush, a third-wave cedar cutter as were his brothers and cousins along the Upper Macleay.  And we were mill children for a time, surrounded by trees, logs, whirring chain saws and the swirling ever present gritty dust.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Landscapes of my childhood
Along the white, dusty ribbon of road that runs past the front of the Kirkpatrick farmhouse there   are eucalypts.  One is a battered rather crooked old apple gum.  It is still there now, it has been there as long as I can remember sitting so close to the road it is almost growing from it.  If once white settlers could not bear to think of these tough trees as worthy subjects for the artist’s brush now their sparse beauty is all we need to bring us home.  My child’s eye saw this tree, was drawn to it.  I was soothed by its thick sturdy branches and familiar drooping leaves.  It’s white trunk and leathery leaves claim the stories, hold the history, hint at memory, hope and dreaming for us all.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Writing the Ghost Child

Writing the Ghost Child

I was not planning this trip back to my childhood. I have not yearned for nor wanted to return to the memory of those days. I left the Nulla Nulla Creek in 1951 as an eleven year old and I did not look back.  When I did go back more than fifty years later and walked across that same ground -  the paddocks, the banks of the Creek and the white ribbon of road that is Nulla Nulla Creek Road - the same spaces and places my parents and grandparents and great grandparents and I had once traversed I saw it differently of course.  I saw it through layers of my own life and living, and the memories of that childhood had faded. As a consequence I  have had to re-learn my own life history to write this memoir and I have had to research the history of the small dairy farming community that once thrived along the banks of this small tributary of the Upper Macleay River. My memory of childhood is blurred and uneven. But memory is like that, it pulls us into spaces and places that we remember, vaguely or well, and from that somehow we shape a version, our version of the past.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ghost child:  a memoir
Noeline Kyle's latest book out in early 2015
Noeline had to trawl through family histories, school records, newspaper reports, oral histories, museum data, and library and archival material to fill in some of the blank spaces left by a childhood lived so long ago; a childhood whose history was scattered, lost perhaps in the ghostly landscape scarcely able to be remembered at all. This childhood, her childhood, is partly a paean to the many myths, misunderstandings and misconceptions now clouding that past.  It is also a story of how the history of childhood, any childhood, cannot be any more than the sum of its many wavering, ghostly and almost unknowable events  Her childhood story begins as World War 11 looms and ends as she closes the school gate for the last time. Her father, an itinerant worker, is often out of work, is sometimes just away somewhere.  It is an uncertain, ever-shifting family environ and her mother is unhappy in its rough and wild spaces.   The family moves often, there is constant upheaval and no safe haven from the misery of it all. But on the farm of her Grandfather Billy Kyle the child finds a brief sanctuary from the insecurity of her parent’s unhappiness. And it is her young aunts with their generous hearts, the steady support of grandparents and friends who provide the tiny pieces of warmth, laughter and hope to leaven the bitterness and hurt of an unhappy family life.
Forthcoming 2015, more details soon.......

Monday, March 3, 2014

Copyright, plagiarism and using evidence

Websites to help with copyright, plagiarism questions.

The copyright genie (US only).
Plagiarism Q & A

Plagiarism: What it is and how to recognise and avoid it
What is plagiarism?



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Some basic rules for citing your sources in family history writing

There are lots of websites to help with citing your sources today but they do require some idea of what it is you are doing (similarly when you use the cite button for TROVE on other library or archives websites)…these websites and other aids such as   can help you to cite many of the sources (digital and otherwise) that we use as family historians.  However, it is also relatively easy, by following a few basic rules, to sort this out yourself:

The basic rules for citing your sources:

1.        Be consistent. Whatever format you choose to use stay with it.

2.       Ensure you have sufficient information so that the reader/following research or historian can find that source again.

3.       Minimal capitalization is the order of the day.

4.       Punctuation, as little as possible.

Why you should cite your sources:

1.       To avoid plagiarism and acknowledge other writers/publishers work.

2.       To meet your obligations as a historian (that is, whether the work you cite is in or out of copyright, you cite the source so as to acknowledge that someone else, a previous researcher/writer,  wrote this text that you are citing).

There are two basic styles for referencing:

1.       Humanities style (sometimes referred to as documentary note system) this method is widely used by historians and consists of footnotes collected at the bottom of each page or endnotes collected at the end of a chapter or at the end of a book. 

2.       APA (American Psychological Association Style), the APA style uses the in-text author-date citation method and is also referred to as the Harvard author-date system.

You can see examples of all of these rules, conventions and styles online at the following:

Chicago Manual of Style online at:

Garbl’s Editoral Style Manual developed by Gary B Larson see at:

Plagiarism in a digital age:

Style Manual for authors, editors and printers, John Wiley & Sons/Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2002 (this is the editing, citing and publishing guide for Australians and is available in the reference section of every public and university library in Australia).

My small book Citing historical sources: a manual for family historians covers all of the above and move and distils this information down to a readable and useful guide, you can buy it for $12 from Gould Genealogy at:

Friday, February 14, 2014

It’s never too late to become a writer: Yvonne Hammonds story of living with her husband Don’s dementia

Yvonne Hammond is a student who participant in a writing family history group I facilitated in the Northern Rivers in the 2000s…she was then in her 80s and said that writing the stories of her life and her family had become one of  the most joyful  acts of her life.  Yvonne became a friend and over the years since we have met and corresponded and talked about writing, life, love and the universe…….In my 2007 book Writing Family History Made Very Easy  I have an excerpt from Yvonne’s story of her mother titled ‘Cradle to the Grave’ (pp.12-13), as an example of a strong imaginative framework and  good use of dialogue Yvonne uses  in the re-creating of the conversations of her childhood and youth all done  with a lightness, deftness and skill rarely found in most family history.  

Yvonne was 83 when she wrote that story.  Now at age 91 Yvonne has written a personal story of her experiences caring for her husband Don from the onset of his dementia in 2002 until he passed away aged 91 in 2012. In that time Yvonne also dealt with several major operations herself including a serious fall and broken bones just after losing Don necessitating a long stint in hospital and then rehabilitation. But in all that time Yvonne showed courage and humour as well as real  toughness in dealing  with whatever came her way.

In her writing of The Challenging Journey (her story of Don and her and a journey of love, compassion and much else) there is humour, irony, poignancy and a wonderful sense of love and the frailty of the human condition.  And there is compassion and caring. 

You can read an interview of Yvonne Hammond in the Ballina Shire Advocate as follows:
Article from Ballina Shire Advocate 5 Feb 2014 Yvonne Hammond talking about her book