June 2nd 2001

  Buy Issue 2609

Articles from this issue:

Indonesia's next President?

Editorial - Reality TV or Feral TV?

Budget sets stage for election campaign

HIH collapse: another case of socialising the losses?

AFFA stalls on NZ apples issue

Straws in the wind

The Media


Greater role for Navy in the Pacific inevitable

Learn from history on drug abuse

Is the political system for sale?

Revised Victorian Tolerance Bill no better

AFA statement on the Budget

Vale, Tom Luscombe

Books promotion page

Vale, Tom Luscombe

by John Wright

News Weekly, June 2, 2001

When T.R. (Tom) Luscombe died a fortnight ago at the age of 82, it was more than 50 years since the first of his columns, headed "Collins Street Rustic", appeared in News Weekly.

A country boy from Port Pirie, South Australia, he had done his RAAF radar training near Melbourne, using leave days to explore the Dandenong Ranges on foot.

After the war, he worked in Port Pirie and in Newcastle, then, as ever, a key centre of industrial action, and then moved to Melbourne, where he worked for the National Catholic Rural Movement (NCRM), and with his wife bought a house and eight acres of land at the foot of the Dandenongs. From there, he was to commmute to the city, supplementing the family income by raising poultry and growing fruit and vegetables.

Tom's ideas were reinforced by two American books: Louis Bromfield's Malabar Farm and Ralph Borsodi's Flight from the City (the latter re-published in Australia). The pioneers of the organic and conservation movements were being heard and discussed long before such causes became fashionable, and some attention was given to the extent to which European city workers, sometimes faced with shorter hours of regular employment, were commuting from out-of-town blocks on which they were able to farm part-time.

Tom noted in an early column the difficulties of advocating homesteads with small acreages for industrial workers "in these days of full employment and unfilled jobs". But, he added, "the present boom is not necessarily permanent". He quite deliberately chose the title "Rustic" rather than "Collins Street Farmer", which was used on occasion to describe professional people who bought up farmland, under guidance from their tax agents, so that

Losses on the roundabouts

Meant profits on the swings.

Tom Luscombe's column was in the form, more or less, of a weekly report on the rustic author's operations, and its popularity soon became apparent from the number of readers who wrote to comment on, or to seek further details concerning life on the farmlet. There were requests, too, that the columns be re-issued in book form.

"Collins Street Rustic" appeared week after week for more than 10 years, and of course represented only a fraction of the author's output. He wrote for the NCRM's publication, Rural Life, and News Weekly on a wide range of rural and regional matters, and contributed articles and reviews which gave evidence of his deep and abiding interest in Australian history and literature.

He was thus well equipped for his later years as an author and in the publishing industry. His first book was a study of some 15 notable figures in Australian Catholicism, under the title of Builders and Crusaders.

He later published three novels, The Priest and the Governor (1970), A Village over the Yarra (1974), and A Bridge over the River (1980). In recent years, failing health restricted his ability to complete other novels for which he had long been making preparations.

One lasting memorial is a street bearing his name at the farming site from which he commuted and reported to his readers.

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Memo to Shorten, Wong: LGBTIs don't want it

COVER STORY Shorten takes low road to defeat marriage plebiscite

COVER STORY Reaper mows down first child in the Low Countries

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Kevin Andrews: defend marriage on principles

COVER STORY Bill Shorten imposes his political will on the nation

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

ENVIRONMENT More pseudo science from climate

News and views from around the world

Menzies, myth and modern Australia (Jonathan Pincus)

China’s utterly disgraceful human-rights record

Japan’s cure for childlessness: a robot (Marcus Roberts)

SOGI laws: a subversive response to a non-existent problem (James Gottry)

Shakespeare, Cervantes and the romance of the real (R.V. Young)

That’s not funny: PC and humour (Anthony Sacramone)

Refugees celebrate capture of terror suspect

The Spectre of soft totalitarianism (Daniel Mahoney)

American dream more dead than you thought (Eric Levitz)

Think the world is overcrowded: These 10 maps show why you’re wrong (Max Galka)

© Copyright NewsWeekly.com.au 2011
Last Modified:
November 14, 2015, 11:18 am