“Flame Trees” was sung by Jimmy Barnes to commemorate Australia Day on 26th January this year (2016). The song depicts for me the two sides of Grafton, its polarities. This town is the setting for my memoir “River Girl” that I intend to publish in the near future. We lived outside the main town at a place called Waterview. Being surrounded by nature was the positive side of my childhood when I was growing up.
Grafton and South Grafton
I was born and grew up in the far north coast town of Grafton in NSW, Australia. Actually, it was on the poor cousin side of South Grafton on the western bank of the Clarence River. At a place called Waterview. There’s a crooked bridge joining the two sides of the river. We lived on a block of land in a weatherboard cottage, a bit of a dump, really. Dad didn’t mind, so long as he was away from the town ‘rubber necks’. Mum hankered after mod cons and pretty things. Dad wanted only land, gum trees and bullocks.
There was an avenue of jacaranda trees, which marked the end of the township of South Grafton, and the start of the Gwydir Highway, that we lived next to, one mile out from the town boundary.