Yenohan's Legacy

Yenohan's Legacy from Dale Lorna Jacobsen

By: Dale Lorna Jacobsen  12-Mar-2014
Keywords: an Unlikely Alliance, High Country, Brumbies, Australia, History, Huts, Cattle, Sheep, Drovers, Pioneers, Kha, Kosciuszko,

About Yenohan's Legacy Yenohan's Legacy celebrates the often unrecognised efforts of members of the Kosciuszko Huts Association (KHA) who restore, not only our history, but beautiful huts which serve as a refuge for walkers and riders who roam the high country. Sometimes these shelters saves lives. It also tells of the grass-roots battlers who ran sheep and cattle in the most beautiful country in Australia. Underlying this history are the often-tragic tales of the Traditional Owners forced from their homeland. These strands are pulled together in Yenohan's Legacy. Fran McMillan, a thirty-something chisel-wielding woman, is camped at Mount Clear in Namadgi National Park, escaping the heat of a Queensland summer, when she encounters Kelvin, one of a group of men from Canberra restoring a high-country hut. She inveigles her way into the work party — a weekend that changes her life. As Fran works on the hut, she hears the fragmented story of the pioneering Thompson family who came to live in the harsh Snow Belt in 1909, and of Yenohan, an Aboriginal girl who befriended their daughter, Eleanor. Love also pays Fran a brief visit during the weekend when she follows Kelvin into the wilderness. Fran returns to Queensland and resumes furniture making until a disaster calls her back south: it is January 2003, and wildfires are racing through the Alps, ravaging the national park, destroying lovingly-restored huts in their path and altering the nature of the Australian High Country forever. In Queensland, Fran watches television reports in disbelief as a firestorm engulfs the outer suburbs of Canberra, consuming 500 homes and killing four people. For three days, she tries to contact Kelvin. On the fourth she throws her backpack into her car and drives south to Canberra to face the truth — and Kelvin's wife and family. Whilst in Canberra Fran visits Tilly Anderson (a descendant of the Thompson family) and the final pieces of the puzzle surrounding the relationship between the family and Yenohan fall into place. The idea for this story came one weekend when I, like Fran, joined a work party with KHA restoring Westerman's hut near Mount Clear. After two days of intense work, I noticed the boards missing from the bedroom ceiling. I commented that they would need to be replaced. "Oh no," exclaimed the leader, "that's history". The story that unfolded led me to a lonely grave on a hill beyond the hut. My writer's imagination took over. Over the ensuing twelve months, I took advantage of the superb collection at the National Library of Australia, and visited people who had once run their own sheep and cattle in what was to become Namadgi National Park. I camped where Fran camped, travelled the trails she travelled, and fell in love with many rustic huts the early settlers called home. The Aboriginal Liaison Officer from NSW Parks and Wildlife Service handed my manuscript to two women Elders from the Wolgal nation who wholeheartedly approved of my use of Yenohan in this story.

Keywords: an Unlikely Alliance, High Country, Brumbies, Australia, History, Huts, Cattle, Sheep, Drovers, Pioneers, Kha, Kosciuszko,

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