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.