From Kangaroo (1923)

D. H. Lawrence visited Australia in 1922, staying for a time at Thirroul, south of Sydney:

The train ran for a long time through Sydney, or the endless outsides of Sydney. The town took almost as much leaving as London does. But it was different. Instead of solid rows of houses, solid streets like London, it was mostly innumerable detached bungalows and cottages, spreading for great distances, scattering over hills, low hills and shallow inclines. And then waste marshy places, and old iron, and abortive corrugated iron “works” – all like the Last Day of Creation, instead of a new country. Away to the left they saw the shallow waters of the big opening where Botany Bay is: the sandy shores, the factory chimneys, the lonely places where it is still Bush. And the weary half established straggling of more suburb.

Como” said the station sign. And they ran on bridges over two arms of water from the sea, and they saw what looked like a long lake with wooded shores and bungalows: a bit like Lake Como, but oh, so unlike. That curious sombreness of Australia, the sense of oldness, with all the forms worn down low and blunt, squat. The squat-seeming earth. And then they ran at last into real country – rather rocky, dark old rocks, and sombre bush with its different, pale-stemmed, dull-leaved gum-trees standing graceful, and various healthy-looking undergrowth, and great spiky things like yuccas…

 

The Travellers by Gary Shead, 1996 (Savill Galleries)

The Travellers by Gary Shead, 1996 (Savill Galleries)

“Your wonderful Australia!” said Harriett to Jack. “I can’t tell you how it moves me. It feels as if no-one had ever loved it. Do you know what I mean? England and Germany and Italy and Egypt and India – they’ve all been loved so passionately. But Australia feels as if it had never been loved, and never come out into the open. As if man had never loved it, and made it a happy country, a bride country – or a mother country.”

“I don’t suppose they ever have,” said Jack.

“But they will?” asked Harriett. “Surely they will. I feel if I was Australian, I should love the very earth of it – they very sand and dryness of it – more than anything.”

–D.H. Lawrence, English, 1885-1930

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