It’s been autumn for a couple of weeks now, but only in theory. With nights over twenty degrees Celsius and days ranging from 32 to 36 it’s hard to believe. Now however it looks as if summer is finally over, with temperatures forecast under 30 for the next week or so. I live in Central Victoria in Australia and autumn is my favourite time of year–partly because I’m always glad to see the end of summer but also because the trees changing colour are just so beautiful and the weather is perfect until winter. (Then I’ll complain about that too.)
I have no right to complain, I know. So many areas of our country have been destroyed this summer with bush-fires and floods and we’re very lucky where we live to have had no such problems this year. The climate is relatively mild and I live in a large regional town which has just about everything we need, although a beach would be nice. As would a river. And perhaps if we could just move it all a hundred kilometres closer to Melbourne. Not that I’m particularly fond of Melbourne–I’m a country girl and have no desire to live in the city but three of my sons live there and it would be nice to be a bit closer to them.
Like many towns in Central Victoria Bendigo began with a gold mining boom, back in the mid 19th century, and much of the history written about the area relates to mining and the benefits and problems that came with that. There are still many miners’ cottages and much grander dwellings of those who did very well from Bendigo gold, as well as some beautiful public buildings.
By the arrival of the 20th century the town became less a collection of diggings and more a civilized township, with a shopping centre and theatre, as well as public transport in the form of trams, which still operate today.
In 1910, Camellia McCluskey and her de facto, George, settled on the outskirts of town, in an area known as Ironbark. The story of Camellia is not such a well-known part of Bendigo’s history. The house where they lived still stands and the grave where their children are buried is marked with a small plaque. Their story is both tragic and fascinating and I have written it using both public records and the newspapers of the day, which make compelling reading. Not Guilty is available at Amazon, both as an ebook and as a paperback, at https://www.amazon.com/author/christinemgardner