Katharine Prichard looking out the window of her writing cabin, ca. 1930s.
From This Australia 1985, date of photograph ca. 1930s.

One story of Katharine Susannah Prichard’s that I love is “Yoirimba” (1958). It’s a simple and powerful story of just a few pages, set in Greenmount on the edge of Perth where Katharine lived – the most overt portrait of Katharine’s home. A spinster teacher named Miss Priscilla buys a “half-acre block of wild flowers and rocks on the hillside”; from it “the lights of the city sparkled along the horizon at dusk”. She builds a shack on the block and delights in the wildflower garden. She is determined that “not a tree or wildflower is going to be moved”. Her parents are farmers and have got too old to carry on their hard work on the land. She invites them to come live with her, in the simple house with its wild garden which needs no work. When Miss Priscilla is sent to the goldfields to teach for a term, her parents are left alone in the house. While she’s away, her father “cut down the trees, burnt off the scrub, borrowed a horse and plough and turned-up the hillside. He planted vines and fruit trees, and set out a garden in the front of the house. Mrs Tebbut planted marigolds and geraniums, stocks and sweet-peas.” Miss Priscilla returns, devastated by the transformation of her wild paradise into a miniature farm. It is a sad story about misunderstandings between aged parents and adult children, a clash of values about the environment and the purpose of life.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find “Yoirimba”, but it did appear in the selection of her stories, Tribute, published in 1988.