Yearning for “Home”

Y2020Over the years I’ve often thought of what constitutes “home” to me. You’d think I might have reached a conclusion after travel, living in two countries and two states, but I still waver. Without a doubt I’m an Aussie, I love the wide open skies and the vivid colours, the changing shades of the sea and the wildlife. Although I’ve spent many years of my life in Brisbane it just doesn’t speak to me as “home” though it feels familiar. Similarly, returning to Darwin seems “normal” yet also isn’t home even though I miss those wild Wet Season storms, the thunder and lightning and the flurry of dragonflies to herald the Dry Season.

When I first lived in Papua New Guinea I was homesick for Brisbane, yet within a year PNG had become home, and when we left over 8 years later, I was then homesick for the sights, sounds and smells of PNG. These days whenever I’m away I’m ready for home after a few weeks. So perhaps home geographically is simply Australia and more specifically wherever Mr Cassmob, the cat, and our collection of books and “stuff” reside. My vast gratitude is embedded in Australia and my family.

“LA’s fine but it ain’t home, New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more”. Neil Diamond, singer songwriter.

Home and Ancestors

All of which leads me to wonder did my ancestors yearn for the homes of their birth? Their birthplaces were so different from where they settled in Queensland. Did they miss the cooler weather, the soft rain of Ireland, the hedges and fields of England, the busy-ness of Scottish cities or the wildness of the countryside, the closeness of the Bavarian village or the communities they’d known all their lives?

Did they mourn the absence of family even towards the end of their own lives and as death neared did they think sadly of their homelands? This immigrant song by Queensland singer Graeme Connors evokes some of my thoughts: Sicilian Born.

And he never talked about going home
And he told me once the reason why.
He said, “Home’s not where you’re born,
Home is where a man’s prepared to die….

But ultimately:

….And to my surprise when I came home I found his place had sold
I called the other neighbours to find out where he’s gone
They say, “He packed up and just went back to wherever he came from”

Join my ancestors on the journey from their home places to their new homes in Queensland.

George Kunkel and Mary O’Brien emigrated in the 1850s and came to Ipswich, Queensland (you can see an image below of Ipswich 20 years later). George came from the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten, and Mary from the townland of Ballykelly in the parish of Broadford, County Clare, Ireland.

fass postcard

A postcard for Das Goldenes Fass, owned for 200 years by the Happ then Kunkel families. Dorfprozelten, Bavaria


View from the O’Brien land at Ballykelly, Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland. © P Cass 2010

m ck from a distance

A view of the old Kunkel property late 1980s. Fifteen Mile, Murphys Creek, Qld © P Cass 2010

Catherine McCorkindale, who married Denis Kunkel, emigrated from Glasgow and lived at Kelvin  Grove, Brisbane.


Annie Sim McCorkindale emigrated from Glasgow with her family in 1910 but had grown up on Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar parish, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Annie’s husband, Duncan, had died four years before the family emigrated. Photos © P Cass 2010


Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar, Stirlingshire, Scotland. © P Cass 2010

Stephen Gillespie Melvin, whom we’ve heard a bit about in this series, grew up in Leith, the port for Edinburgh in Scotland. Although the buildings look quite grand, his family, like most of the others lived in small “apartments” within the building.  At time the area was quite rough and ready, a sailor’s place. Now it is well on the way to gentrification. Stephen arrived with his son Lawrence in Ipswich, Queensland in 1877. His young wife had died in quarantine in Moreton Bay.


The Shore, Leith. © P Cass 2019




William Partridge and his wife-to-be Hannah Kent arrived in Ipswich in 1855 and 1854, respectively. The town was much more basic than the above image depicts.

William came from Coleford, Gloucestershire (though born in London). Hannah emigrated from Sandon in Hertfordshire with her parents and brothers. Quite a marked change of housing, environment and facilities.

Denis Gavin and his wife Eleanor Murphy arrived in Queensland in 1855 and his work took them out past Dalby to a sheep station where he worked as a bullock drover. He was from Kildare, Ellen from Wicklow and they married in Dublin and lived in the Liberties. A more extreme change of environment would be hard to imagine.

Images below: Dalby 1868 when the Gavins lived there, and a bullock team and drover. References: (Dalby) (Bullock team)

Peter (Mc)Sherry and his wife Mary Callaghan were from Gorey and nearby Courtown in County Wexford. They arrived in Rockhampton in 1884 and were soon heading west to Longreach. What a contrast!

St Michael’s church Gorey where the couple were married. Right: Courtown Harbour where Mary came from. Photos: P Cass 2016.

Left: Rockhampton c1887

Right: Longreach c1907-1908

I can’t help wondering if they felt “short-changed” at the new life they’d chosen. Did they miss their homeland and such different scenery?

Do you think your families were happy with their migration decision and were happy, or reconciled, to their new home?