When Robyn and I went ‘back of Bourke’ in 1978, we only had a rough idea of what we were doing. As it turned out, it was a very rough idea! A handful of young Australians came to join us, lived in basic conditions, embarking on the adventure of living in community and learning to put their faith to the test on a farm.
Lindsay McKenzie was a young bloke from Tassie who had met our co-workers Laurie and Elvira McIntosh the year before and came to see what our rough idea looked like. It seeded some simple thoughts that he took with him to Spain and transplanted them into an unlikely setting with heroin addicts on the streets of Madrid.
Here he looks back over the unexpected journey that he took with his wife Myk and others in multiplying those seeds. It’s now a remarkable set of communities called Betel that redeems and renews the lives of addicts around the world.
It seemed highly unlikely that a boy christened ‘Hyacinth’ would one day become one of the great figures in Australia’s military history. His devout Irish Catholic mother may have admired St Hyacinth as a heroic strategist who spread the Christian message from China to Scotland in the 12th century, but the name Hyacinth Honner predictably caused the quiet lad from Three Springs, 300 km North of Perth, a great deal of grief at boarding school! He swiftly resorted to using his second name, Ralph.
Hefting 180-pound wheat bags on the family farm at Dalwallinu bulked the slight, scholarly boy into an accomplished athlete at the University of Western Australia between 1923-25. In his studies in English and History, Ralph developed a deep affection for two key concepts – chivalry and the epic. These gave shape to his unshakable Catholic ideals and fired a conviction that he should live and die - with absolutely no half measures – by what he believed in. They melded into the steel that became the backbone of Ralph Honner’s career as a soldier.
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.