In June 2014 I was introduced to Bill Rowe on a visit to the Red Cliffs Military museum.
Bill grew up on a soldier settlement block. He and his wife hosted me for morning tea and
told me about growing up on the block. His father served in WWI and settled on a block at
Red Cliffs after coming home. Culture Victoria have a 2011 interview available online in
which he shares many of the same stories as he discussed with me.
Bill said block life was very hard and many returned men were pretty traumatised.
He remembers many suicides out on the blocks when he was growing up, men would drown themselves in the underground water tanks or use a firearm. He himself didn't feel that the
knowledge of this had caused him trauma as a child, just that it was a part of the reality of
his experience growing up on the block. Bill also spoke of the bond in the community - that
families would help each other where they could as there was a lot of understanding
through shared experience. Families would pitch in and assist each other where possible.
Katy Mutton is a Canberra based, Australian Visual Artist whose practice is informed by an ongoing concern around trauma and warfare and how these relate to our cultural identity and history. For more information on her artwork visit www.katymutton.com