Sunday, 18 January 2009

Journey - a story in 16 parts. J9 HEART and SOUL

The remnants of the old jetty, with its twelve inch square turpentine timber pylons, sits behind the pub adjacent to the main intersection. In other words where the two streets which constitute the village intersect.

It’s home to a once impressive set of buildings - the two story pub on one corner, with its bland upstairs balcony sheltering the public bar below; the ornate former bank of New South Wales opposite, its arched main entrance built into an elegant curved fa├žade curling around the corner to greet the imposing Catholic church on the rise diagonally opposite the pub. These three institutions were the heart and soul for the men and women of the district. Each week would see them visit at least one, and often all three in succession.

Even dad, not known for his devotion to any religious sentiment. is captured on film as a child dressed in white shirt and dark pants (Sunday best) standing with twenty other seven year olds in front of the grotto honouring the Virgin Mary. It’s “first communion” day and the photographer has managed to tame the wild boys long enough to frame them forever as devotees of this strange cult.

The three institutions, two of which still ply their trade, were built of deep red local brick now approaching one hundred years of age. The jetty probably predates this. It marks the lifeline for this community to the world and economic survival. Once, shallow draft vessels driven first by sail and later by steam would ply the Richmond delivering supplies and then loading up with produce and timber for the down river run to Ballina and perhaps on to Sydney or Brisbane.

Today a lone fisherman sits, his line drifting hopefully in the shallows, idling away a Sunday afternoon.

We pull up, pick a shady spot to park, throw open the doors, and wait.

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