In my family, our grandfather was a mystery. He has been talked of, speculated about, but no one could pin down his elusive past. One period we were certain of, was when he owned a large stretch of land.
I visited the site often as a child, but was never aware of just how large that piece of land was because only a portion was farmed while the remainder was bush. When I visited Russell Island recently, I walked through the region that was still bush even now, after my grandfather has long gone.
Paper bark trees filled one section. Orchids grew in another. Mangroves lined the shoreline and mosquitoes and sand flies followed us along the sandy path by the swamp that had once supplied water to the farm. On my visit, it had dried up because of the drought that had contributed to a year of bush fires.
This long strip of land gave a window into what the island must have been like before farms and then houses covered much of the island. I hope it always remains in the family and untouched.