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James McCubbin has made is family home in the new village of Woodend, Victoria, halfway between Melbourne and the Goldfields.

It is a struggle to earn a living while raising a family. Find out about the suicide in Jail, the drowning rescue and the split in the family.

What happens when brother Robert arrives with his new bride? And how does the extended family fare as the new century approaches?



Melbourne was prospering and fast outgrowing itself in the wake of the gold rushes. Those who had struck it rich were buying or building new residences around the city fringe as fast as they could, along with those who had made their fortunes from selling supplies to the unsuccessful miners.  In the city, new granite and sandstone banks and commercial buildings were growing out of the ground at a surprising rate. The muddy streets were packed with carts carrying quarried stone blocks, lengths of raw timber or other building goods as teams of men swarmed over the new structures. James and Agnes observed the hustle and bustle as their cart forged its way slowly up the hill. The children were all agog at the sights and sounds of the swelling city.

Their cart wheels squealed as they rounded a corner and headed down an alleyway between the buildings on Burke Street. James glimpsed a hand-painted sign saying Crombies Lane as they passed. Small shops and residences lined their path and it was only a few yards until they halted outside a timber residence. The driver hopped down and offered his hand to Agnes, who dismounted carefully, making sure that her long dress didn’t trail in the mud. As she hiked up her hemline, a flash of ankle showed and she blushed as she saw the driver’s eyes drop to her feet.

James came around the back of the cart at that moment and murmured, “Get the bairns down, my dear.” He pulled his hand out of his pocket and handed over the seven shillings.

“Who do I ask for in the lodging house?”

“’Er name’s Mary. She’ll see you all squared away an’ no mistake. An’ you can tell ‘er I’ll be in as soon as I’ve taken the ‘arness off the ‘orse.”

“So, are you staying here as well?”

“Right on, me friend. Mary’s me missus. Now if ye hurries on, you might get a bit o’ hot water for the lady to wash up in.”

The evening meal was nothing flash, bread and cold beef washed down with some watered ale, and only provided after James had passed over a sovereign and a couple of worn shillings from his leather purse. Their bedroom was small and the children curled up on the floor while James and Agnes shared the creaky bed. A small pot of burning charcoal stood in the corner to ward away the chill of night.

“Tomorrow you must start looking for work!” was the last thing James heard as he drifted off into an exhausted sleep.

bullet Woodend (Writing)
bullet Railways Northwest (Pre-Research)
bullet A Knight So Bold (Pre-Research)
bullet Cleft in the Clan (Pre-Research)
bullet Jacobus Rising (Pre-Research)
bullet Point of the Dirk (Pre-Research)
bullet McCubbin of Ponthead (Pre-Research)
bullet Liberty Denied (Pre-Research)
bullet The House at the End of the Street (Pre-Research)
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Copyright 2006 by Rob. McCubbin • Email: