Memories from here

Prolific regional author recalls a time less complicated

Helen typically wears bold and colourful clothing. She has a nose for country news and you can see her at most agricultural shows in the district sitting in the stud ring stands, side by side with her husband Allan.

Helen typically wears bold and colourful clothing. She has a nose for country news and you can see her at most agricultural shows in the district sitting in the stud ring stands, side by side with her husband Allan.

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A favourite show society historian has published her 10th book - this time recalling vivid memories from home on the farm

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Helen Trustum of Bentley via Lismore used to be a Maxwell from Tuckurimba, and those memories from home are the subject of her latest accomplishment, her 10th published book, which has come full circle.

This one, like her first, is about family. The intervening efforts have included country shows, livestock carriers and auctioneers.

Helen typically wears bold and colourful clothing. She has a nose for country news and you can see her at most agricultural shows in the district sitting in the stud ring stands, side by side with her husband.

Allan Trustum was born at Woodburn, running distance - if you carried an Olympic torch - from the Maxwell's farm, Delelvin.

Maxwell Lane at the foot of Tuckurimba hill was the whole world for Helen and the whole world, it seemed, came past to pay a visit.

One of those Memories of Home, as Mrs Trustum titled her latest book, details the running of the torch in 1956, which travelled along the river road from Lismore to the Pacific Highway.

School teacher Jimmy Ormond shared the honour with dairy farmer and community-minded men Frank Boland and Ray Hunt.

"As they ran from Swan Bay to Woodburn we all stood by the side of the road to watch the hand-over," said Helen. "We were lucky to live in that era and it was fortunate that I was old enough to remember."

Before all that was another big event, in 1954, when HRH Elizabeth, the new Queen, paid Australia her Royal visit and Helen and her sister Elaine were enticed by their mother to become excited with the gift of a mail-order present from David Jones: Cardboard cut-out dolls printed with the faces of Elizabeth and Margaret.

The Queen flew by Butler's Air to Evans Head on a grey and rainy day and was quickly ushered away, bound for greater populations. As she passed through the relative metropolis of Coraki Helen remembers the fair-faced Monarch behind a window glass streaming with water from rain that fell "like cats and dogs".

They followed by car to Lismore where she and Elaine waved their cardboard dolls as members of an adoring crowd, standing below her Royal balcony, upstairs in the Gollan Hotel.

Coraki, by the way, is a Bundjalung word to describe a meeting of waters, where the Wilsons meets the Richmond and when the rain failed to stop, Queen Elizabeth was fortunate to escape before the greatest flood in local history drowned those two valleys. The little farm at Maxwell Lane was cut off from the coast for a fortnight.

Helen's love affair with radio began in 1950, at the age of 5, when the star of the wireless - the Australian country and western star Smoky Dawson - entertained at the Lismore Show, cracking his whip on his Palomino horse Flash.

"He was a big deal back then," recalled Helen. "As a family we would all gather around the radio to listen."

Hymns were broadcast on a Sunday and the family would gather around to sing along, sometimes struggling to find the right words, as their books had different lay-outs.

When she was older the same broadcasting company use to transmit popular songs, like The Twist and Helen used to dance with Alan's brother Billy, winning the night at Woodburn Memorial Hall before competing in the finals at Lismore.

"I so loved that song that I bought a Twist blouse from Allan and Starke in Brisbane, before it became Myers, paying 29 shillings and 11 pence, which was a lot."

Friday nights were spent by the radio listening to the patter of John Martins as he played the top of the pops. Those who correctly chose the top five songs won a 45rpm single worth 10 shillings.

Johnny O'Keefe, Col Joy and Little Pattie - they were all winners and in turn Helen and Elaine collected a lot of vinyl.

Of course there were the main events in her life, like when Helen and Elaine married the Trustum brothers. Then there was the start of a Charolais stud in 1974 - the year of the great flood and just before the great cattle crash. Becoming a life member of the Charolais Society followed in due course.

Showing cattle was always a pleasure, none more so than winning supreme bull from 28 breeds at the 1990 Royal Brisbane show.

Almost as special was winning The Land Northern Rivers female of the year (a contest organised by then correspondent Kevin Elsley) with a Charolais that went on to win at eight local shows, including winning its class at the EKKA.

"I actually started the book 10 years ago as a keep-sake for my family," she said. "But then I got busy. There was the Bentley Art Prize to attend-to and I put it away but while we were locked-up in COVID I pulled it out of the cupboard and all the memories came back, It was important that I push on and get it finished - for the future generations to have something to look back with."

Great scrap-books, some piled a metre high and stuffed with cuttings from newspapers, have always been Helen's preferred tool to jog her memory.

In the past she assembled her thoughts with words written on paper but this time around she has discovered a new and most efficient technology - the word-processor!

"I do prefer the computer," she says.

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