Still going strong: Glenice Wood Lake by the original 1840s loose boxes of Mount Boninyong Estate. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Flora’s story comes home

November 1, 2019 BY

WHEN Glenice Wood Lake first took a History of Buninyong class with the University of the Third Age, it turned a new page in her life.

“I started doing some research into the early Buninyong township and in that, came the names of several of our early squatters, including the Scott family,” she said.

Writing a small report, Ms Wood Lake thought descendants of the family, still living at the Mount Boninyong Estate might like a copy.

“Celia Burnham (née Scott) had all the diaries, invoice books and notebooks, and this absolute treasure trove of early history records, all original.”

Inspired by the memorabilia of “the real story,” Ms Wood Lake wrote The Land They Learnt to Love last year, telling the Scott family’s first ten years in the Port Phillip district.

But just last week, she released her second book, Flora, for children nine to 12, about the horse that spent almost 30 years with the initial Scotts, Andrew, Celia and their children Robert, Andrew, Thomas and Martha.

A loyal companion to Andrew, the patriarch, Flora helped the Scotts grow their life and dairy at the 16,000-acre lease, just by Mount Buninyong.

“It’s written in Flora’s voice,” Ms Wood Lake said. “I’ve tried to capture the early history to get kids interested and excited, and tell it through Flora’s eyes.

“Jeanette Creelman Skrokov decided to illustrate it after reading the draft. She loved the story too and ended up with two dozen of the most beautiful watercolours.”

This month marks 180 years since Andrew Scott first arrived at the family property in Buninyong with 88 cattle, and that’s why Ms Wood Lake launched her book there last week.

“It’s very special because somehow it’s like the story coming home and completing itself,” she said.

Celia Burnham finds it wonderful to have the history of her descendants compiled for the next generations.

“I always heard about Flora as I grew up,” she said. “She was always mentioned, none of the other horses were, but she was so special to the family. It’s such a beautiful story, so we’re very proud.

“It’s a general picture of those early squatters. It could be any of those early families. What they went through, how they stuck together and worked together to achieve anything is amazing,” Mrs Burnham said.

Flora is currently available at the Buninyong Information Centre, and Hewitt and Whitty.