Seeing those legendary gates of Terrick Terrick, a renowned sheep breeding and wool growing property now displayed in Blackall’s Ram Park, was for me a recognition of a great past and a renewed optimism for the future.
I was visiting Blackall for the 20th annual Queensland Regional, Rural and Remote Women’s Conference in September. I was excited and slightly in awe of changes and developments in the 20 years since I last visited. I was in some disbelief it had been so long but the presence of my two young sons, 5 and 3, the evidence was undeniable.
I had first visited this area as part of a shearing team in 1990 and again in my final year at university in 1993. These times made a lasting impression. My professional life has and remains very much on rural issues. For almost a decade it focused on the wool industry. Much of it was in the inside country and overseas. When I was 14 and deciding, somewhat unexpectedly, to work in the country given my city upbringing, I pored over the many pastoral books about the great stations waiting for the next school holidays to get still more work experience. Seeing those Terrick Terrick gates brought back so many years of learning and trying to understand a country that I found at times unforgiving but ultimately rewarding and memorable.
Terrick Merinos continues at a new location and the original Terrick Terrick is now a cattle grazing enterprise. However, it did make me feel nostalgic for what had been and an example of what I had hoped to show my sons. Another was my hope to see again the magnificent Isis Downs shearing shed. Formerly an immense wool growing property with over 230,000 sheep, it too now is cattle. Dipping into nostalgia is easy when your life is city based and not connected in that same intimate way to the fortunes of the boom and bust cycle and the hostilities of the weather. What I saw, however, was a community preserving its past and engaging with those who lived there and those travelling through, like us. My youngest son used the gates as a vantage point to spot passing caravans. My oldest, kindly hosted by Blackall State School was introduced to the region’s history through this and the other displays at Ram Park.
This display and the greater presence of public art in the region including Richard Moffatt’s magnificent eagle and nest sculpture on the banks of the Barcoo offers much. This preservation and interpretation builds a wealth of resources and inspiration. It shows a community embracing change and linking the past to create new opportunities that engage, educate and embolden.