In May, during the Covid lockdown, my mother Barbara Hamer, died. While she was much luckier than many others have been at this time, (a painless fade, with family to support her), it is still a loss.

She was always busy, tending to rush full tilt at life expecting it to get out of the way. She always assumed she would have a privileged and significant life, and she did: as a trained social worker; as a music-lover; as a willing supporter of Dad’s naval life; and a less willing participant in his political life; as a philanthropist; as an elected member of the University of Melbourne Council; author and much more.

She was fascinated by the natural world, while also convinced it was full of snakes and poisonous plants. She loved the time spent with her aunt and uncle at Hamilton in western Victoria, learning to ride a horse , roll a cigarette in one hand, while holding the reins in the other.

When she moved to Canberra in 1959 she decided that the best thing about the newborn capital city was escaping to the countryside around it. Determined to have us enjoy what she had, she purchased a pony, and then found a farm to keep it on (after the pony escaped from our back garden and trotted across the King’s Avenue Bridge among the morning traffic).

Despite often primitive conditions (pit toilets, kerosene lamps and termites in the walls) she gave my brothers and I a childhood sanctuary where we could swim, ride and explore freely.

She often suggested the farm “should become a National Park” and have its many beauties (river, rocks and all) protected. From 2011 she supported Craig and me to work on restoring and repairing the landscape and making it more friendly to wildlife and birds. While we dug holes and planted, she brought lunches, made flags to locate planting holes, labeled tubestock and followed the progress of the tree lots with fascination.

She wrote her own memoir, so this hardly does her justice. She will be missed.

16 thoughts on “A FAREWELL

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  1. Oh, how sad for you. Please accept Horst’s and my condolences. Your mum sounds like somebody I’d love to have known. By the way, we still think about coming to visit you guys whenever we look at Snowflake, our camper van, mouldering away in the carport. This Covid thing halted our plans, of course, and we both have health issues, but, maybe we’ll manage to make the trip one of these finer days. You wrote such a heart-warming memorial for your mother. Beautiful, as are the photographs. Shirley

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Fiona. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to and photo of your lovely mother, Barbara, and sending our thoughts to you, Craig, Jessie and Charles in the hope that we’ll meet again soon. Love, barb 💐

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A wonderful tribute Fi.
    I remember your mum’s elegance coupled with straight-talking, and that upward tilt of her beautiful face.
    And I’m so glad to learn that your pony escaped and caused her to buy a farm!! What a magnificent gift that was, and is.

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  4. Dear Fiona,

    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your Mum, Barbara. She was as strong as an ox, I felt like she could keep going forever. Thank for the beautiful words you have shared.

    We very much appreciated Barbara opening her beautiful Esdale up to Conrad and I to experience. Esdale and its ebb and flow became part of the fabric of our 30s. It will forever remain some of our fondest memories, when we lived on the Murrumbidgee in a mudstone mansion and enjoyed the farm, orchard, garden, river, and views. We are so grateful to Barbara for sharing this time with us.

    Much love to you, Craig, Jessie, and your family.



  5. Hi Fi

    Beautifully written as was how you spoke at Mrs H’s funeral.

    She was one of those people who was larger than life.

    I will always remember the many kindnesses she extended to me.

    Remember, do not mourn the mother that you have lost, but be thankful for the one you had.

    Stay safe.



  6. Hi Fiona, I am so sorry to learn of the passing of your Mum. What a sadness. You have all my sympathy. However, you have done your Mum proud with this beautiful, loving and moving tribute. Kind regards, Barrie Ridgway


  7. Fiona,
    My dear friend you have been on my mind so much lately. Your mother Barbara was always lovely to me, and I really enjoyed meeting her and having meals together. Thank you for providing this beautiful tribute to your amazing mom. All my love to you and your family.


      1. Hello! We are well & grooving here on Grant St. where sheltering in place is thankfully comfortable. Gardening a little, sewing masks for donation & cooking a lot. Love to you, Craig & the kids. Looking forward to visiting again soon. Xxo


  8. Absolutely beautiful, Fiona

    Grandma loved her rose garden too, and I always felt she was deeply happy while on the farm.

    Miss her terribly.


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