Crudely attached with thin tie-wire they were, to a rectangle of pinboard. Sixteen unusual walking sticks, each a one off, inexpertly but lovingly fashioned from a branch out of the bush. A label punched out on a typewriter said “Walking Sticks Donated by the Sandilands Family of Roumalla, Uralla”. The walking sticks were certainly eye-catching, but the label more so, because it told nothing of the tragic story.
“This isn’t right” I said to the curator of the Armidale Folk Museum, where I’d discovered the sticks, hung on a wall. This is not worthy of the Sandilands’ story”.
He didn’t know what I was talking about. So I told him, finishing with: “These sticks should tell that story at McCrossin’s Mill Museum in Uralla”. He nodded thoughtfully, brushing tears out of his eyes. Then he helped me carry the pathetic piece of pinboard with the sticks attached out to my car for their journey “home”.
An exhibition was designed, something that would properly honour the story of the young Sandilands men, a permanent exhibition.