Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boreham on Going Bush and Heading for the Sea

Wherever F W Boreham went he developed favourite hideaways in the bush and often by the sea where he could go, rest and experience their bounty.

At Mosgiel he has Saddle Hill during the week and Taieri Mouth where the family went for holidays and recuperation.

In Tasmania, Boreham often climbed Mt Wellington but the family spent a total of six months, he says in this excerpt, at Wedge Bay.

At Armadale, Frank and Stella went to the nearby Botanical Gardens every week but they often had holidays in the Dandenong Mountains overlooking Melbourne.

In his retirement and old age there were still trips to the Botanical Gardens and the Dandenongs but in the 1950s they had weekly picnics in the beautiful Boroondara cemetery (where their daughter Wroxie had been buried).

I have had the privilege of visiting all these spots and without exception they are glorious places. In this excerpt from an essay on Wedge Bay, one gets an insight into the way that wonderful nature spots and regular immersion in beauty left their mark on the thinking and personality of F W Boreham:

There is just one spot on God's fair earth that I fancy I know better than any one else. I am not claiming the Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society on that account, although I cannot imagine that any of the world's more ponderous explorers can have done their work with greater thoroughness. Lord Curzon told the Royal Geographical Society the other day that the explorers of the future, instead of examining the general outline of huge territories, will do their best work by investigating small areas in microscopic detail. That being so, I am not without hope of official recognition; but I will not at this moment press my claims. The realm of my choice is worth exploring. It is a little land-locked bay. I do not suppose that the entire sheet of shimmering water exceeds in area a couple of square miles. Its banks are studded byscores of sheltered nooks and dainty coves—the homes of the iris, the orchid and the heath—and away over the rolling hills the great bush clothes the rugged slopes as far as eye can reach.

I have spent about six months of my life poking about this solitary place trying to woo its favour and win its golden secrets, and I really think that, if one of the trees about the water's edge were to fall in my absence, I should miss it and mourn it next time I go. I have no idea how many trees there are, but I should be like those African shepherds who, knowing nothing of arithmetic and unable to count, nevertheless miss at once the sheep that has vanished from their flock. There is something strangely individual, and therefore strangely familiar, about trees. In his Gamekeeper at Home, Richard Jefferies speaks of the grief with which he gazed upon the ugly gap in the English avenue caused by the fall of the old oak; and the paragraph comes back to me as I glance round upon the giant trees that tower up from the scrub around the waters of Wedge Bay. Some of them are getting very tottery, and the sight of one of them, stretched at full length among its smaller neighbours who have been crushed beneath its fall, would awaken much the same emotions as those with which a visitor to his former home reads the names of his old familiars on the tombstones in the village churchyard. Fortunately, however, such calamities occur much less frequently than one would suppose, and the thing that most surprises you is that the changes are so few.

I rowed one day recently into a shady little inlet, and was surprised to find it exactly as I had left it a couple of years before. The stone fireplace I had fashioned, and the traces of the picnic we had held there, were quite undisturbed. So far as I could discern, not a stick nor a stone had been moved since our previous visit, and the bush was to all appearances exactly as we left it. Out in the world of men things change so swiftly that one's brain reels and swims with the ceaseless whirl, and it exerts a steadying influence on one's mind to retreat into a solitude that simply scorns all your lightning transformations. Here, as it was in the beginning, it is now, and so it ever shall be, world without end; and it is restful to saturate oneself in the brooding silence of the forest primaeval. I like to sit in this quiet cove, where I picnicked two years ago, and to reflect that it is today exactly as it was in the days of the Caesars. It is like closing your tired eyes when, at the cinematograph, you can bear the flicker no longer.

F W Boreham, ‘Wedge Bay’ The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 109-111.

Image: Wedge Bay (taken by FWB).