Photos Of Family Farm

The Family Farm Has Changed

On a recent visit to Winton and my mother, I decided I wanted a photo of the farm where she grew up. Three or four times I drove up and down Gap Road looking for something that looked vaguely familiar. I knew the original house had long gone and been replaced – I assumed – with a modern building but I expected to be able to identify the lie of the land and know, yep, this is where my grandparents and great grandparents farmed and where my mother grew up.

Mum has always spoken about her and her siblings walking three and a half miles to school each day. I knew the farm was on Gap Road – not a terribly long rural road. And I do have some memories of what the area used to be like. It should have been a piece of cake to find and photograph, right?

After three or four attempts I finally gave up and admitted to my sister I couldn’t find the place. When she offered to show me I discovered my problem. The council (or whoever is in charge of such things) had changed the road names. One end of Gap Road as it exists today was called by another name at least until 1970 when I left Southland to join the Navy, and the couple of kilometres of road where my grandparents’ farm was, is now called O’Shannassey Road. Because I knew for certain Mum grew up on a farm on Gap Road, I had continually driven past this side road.

So anyway, after some confusion, I now have these photos to share.  It was quite hard to visualise the place as I remember because I was too young to have done much exploring.  Whenever we visited – Mum would stop in to see her mother at least once a month – my brother and sister would jump out of the car when Mum pulled off the road into the driveway – in the days before seat belts and child restraints in cars – and run down the road to play with our cousins {Auntie Ina and her husband farmed on the next farm) who lived next door. I vividly remember trying to scramble out of the car too and go with them, but despite my calls, they would never wait for me. I was such a scaredy cat as a child I could never find the guts to run after them along the country road.

Instead I got to sit under a tree in the backyard – or on the back step depending on the weather – as my aunt Minnie (who by then lived permanently on the farm with her brother Eric and their mother) wouldn’t allow me into the house. I remember those areas and the big shed off to the right, but of course everything is changed now.

Site of the original house

Site of the original house


IMG_0500 The relocated villa looks wonderful, as if it has sat here forever, but it is not quite in the same position as the original house. I couldn’t see whether that tree I sat under has been allowed to remain or not. As I’m writing this I now regret I never knocked on the door and asked permission to have a little wander around, but at the time of taking the photos, this never occurred to me.


Times change most things. But despite the renaming of the road, I eventually had some moments to remember a few little things of my own as I looked over the land where my mother spent her formative years, where my grandparents farmed through many lean times, where my great grandparents had carved a farm from the bush that originally covered this area. It was a time for me to wonder and appreciate the stories this land could share, if only it could.

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