Bill from Brisbane believes Kyogle Writers Fest is the best and he hasn’t missed one yet

Bill Heather, Richard Tipping, Maria Heather and Chris Mansel at the 2022 Writers Festival in Kyogle. Photos: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Bill Heather hasn’t missed a writers festival in Kyogle since it began in 2020.

Bill is in his 80s and lives in Brisbane,

“I’ve been tempted to go to Byron Bay Writers Festival and to Sydney but when I heard about the Kyogle one, I was keen and it was affordable,” he said.

Bill is a retired architect with an interest in creative writing and in Kyogle – he grew up on a dairy farm at Upper Eden Creek until he was 10 years old and the family moved to Brisbane.

Bill enjoys writing and said he has “tackled a few poems over time.”

Last year he entered a poem in the Kyogle Readers and Writers Festival poetry competition.

In 2022, Chris Mansel introduced me to the concept of the concrete poem, Bill said.

“Where the shape of the poem on the page related to its subject matter. In 2023 I entered the poetry competition with a concrete poem titled The Silent Observer.

“It sank without trace unfortunately, but that clock meant a lot to me as when we were kids, our parents would take us to town and we had to rendezvous at the clock in Main St to rejoin them when it was time to go back to the farm.”

Kyogle’s main street clock.

Here is Bill’s poem about the clock.

Bill also wrote about his childhood in Kyogle and sent it to a Growing Up in Country Australia competition in 2021.

Here is an excerpt from the piece written by Bill.

Childhood in the forties on a 300-acre dairy farm 13 miles northwest of Kyogle in the green foothills of the Border Ranges was a dream. God’s own rugged country on all sides, partly cleared, with timbered hills beckoning and rain-forested gullies, remnants of the Big Scrub, asking to be explored.

Upper Eden Creek at the bottom of the hill ran slowly over smooth grey stones, with occasional deep holes where eels could be seen and catfish lurked. The banks were lush with ferns 25 and hidden sweet bush raspberries waiting to be found. The cultivations along the flat lands on each side were planted with rows of corn or cane waiting like troops in line for the day they would be harvested.

The old house on the hill was a high set prewar timber structure, verandas on two sides, a pair of water tanks snuggled up to its walls like piglets sucking at a teat, collecting drinking water 30 from the corrugated iron roof. We lived in a knot of rooms inside with the kitchen dominated by the Kooka wood stove, housed in a tall brick shaft with the copper at the rear in the lean to laundry.

No electricity or running water spoiled us then. A cold and pungent outhouse near the vegie patch served basic needs, with squares of newspaper on a nail and a box of sawdust at your side.

Taking the old kero tin beneath the wooden seat out to the canefield behind the kitchen garden to 35 bury its contents it was an undesirable but necessary chore that fell my way.,

The kerosene fridge stored cold things like milk and cheese. A meat safe hanging in the kitchen corner kept away the flies. We made our own butter with a table churn, turning the handle and watching for the magic moment when the frothy cream hardened into a yellow ball of butter. Our meals were plain food, sometimes with shop bought additions like baked beans, plenty of vegies garnered from our land and the odd lean rabbit, just beware of the purple bullet hole in its loin.

Tinned herrings in tomato sauce on Fridays: I hate them still.

Bill will be at the Kyogle Readers and Writers Festival this weekend. Say g’day if you spot him.

The full festival program here – we’ll see you there.

Two local films – Tinnie Heroes and The Crossing Project will screen at noon tomorrow, Saturday, May 18 at Kyogle Cinema.

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