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166 Works of Henry Lawson

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In a Wet Season

Story type: Literature

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IT was raining—“general rain. ” The train left Bourke, and then there began the long, long agony of scrub and wire fence, with here and there a natural clearing, which seemed even more dismal than the funereal “timber” itself. The only thing which might seem in keeping with one of these soddened flats would be […]

The Drover’s Wife

Story type: Literature

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THE two-roomed house is built of round timber, slabs, and stringy-bark, and floored with split slabs. A big bark kitchen standing at one end is larger than the house itself, veranda included. Bush all round—bush with no horizon, for the country is flat. No ranges in the distance. The bush consists of stunted, rotten native […]

The Golden Graveyard

Story type: Literature

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MOTHER MIDDLETON was an awful woman, an ‘old hand’ (transported convict) some said. The prefix ‘mother’ in Australia mostly means ‘old hag’, and is applied in that sense. In early boyhood we understood, from old diggers, that Mother Middleton—in common with most other ‘old hands’—had been sent out for ‘knocking a donkey off a hen-roost. […]

The Hairy Man

Story type: Literature

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AS FAR back as I can remember, the yarn of the Hairy Man was told in the Blue Mountain district of New South Wales. It scared children coming home by bush tracks from school and boys out late after lost cows; and even grown bushmen, when going along a lonely track after sunset, would hold […]

THERE were about a dozen of us jammed into the coach, on the box seat and hanging on to the roof and tailboard as best we could. We were shearers, bagmen, agents, a squatter, a cockatoo, the usual joker— and one or two professional spielers, perhaps. We were tired and stiff and nearly frozen—too cold […]

The Ghost

Story type: Poetry

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Down the street as I was drifting with the city’s human tide, Came a ghost, and for a moment walked in silence by my side — Now my heart was hard and bitter, and a bitter spirit he, So I felt no great aversion to his ghostly company. Said the Shade: ‘At finer feelings let […]

While you use your best endeavour to immortalise in verse The gambling and the drink which are your country’s greatest curse, While you glorify the bully and take the spieler’s part — You’re a clever southern writer, scarce inferior to Bret Harte. If you sing of waving grasses when the plains are dry as bricks, […]

The world has had enough of bards who wish that they were dead, ‘Tis time the people passed a law to knock ’em on the head, For ‘twould be lovely if their friends could grant the rest they crave — Those bards of ‘tears’ and ‘vanished hopes’, those poets of the grave. They say that […]

Marshall’s Mate

Story type: Poetry

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You almost heard the surface bake, and saw the gum-leaves turn — You could have watched the grass scorch brown had there been grass to burn. In such a drought the strongest heart might well grow faint and weak — ‘Twould frighten Satan to his home — not far from Dingo Creek. The tanks went […]

After All

Story type: Poetry

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The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town; My spirit revives in the morning breeze, though it died when the sun went down; The river is high and the stream is strong, and the grass is green and tall, And I fain would think that this world of ours is […]

So you’re writing for a paper? Well, it’s nothing very new To be writing yards of drivel for a tidy little screw; You are young and educated, and a clever chap you are, But you’ll never run a paper like the CAMBAROORA STAR. Though in point of education I am nothing but a dunce, I […]

The creek went down with a broken song, ‘Neath the sheoaks high; The waters carried the song along, And the oaks a sigh. The song and the sigh went winding by, Went winding down; Circling the foot of the mountain high, And the hillside brown. They were hushed in the swamp of the Dead Man’s […]

If you fancy that your people came of better stock than mine, If you hint of higher breeding by a word or by a sign, If you’re proud because of fortune or the clever things you do — Then I’ll play no second fiddle: I’m a prouder man than you! If you think that your […]

Dan, The Wreck

Story type: Poetry

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Tall, and stout, and solid-looking, Yet a wreck; None would think Death’s finger’s hooking Him from deck. Cause of half the fun that’s started — ‘Hard-case’ Dan — Isn’t like a broken-hearted, Ruined man. Walking-coat from tail to throat is Frayed and greened — Like a man whose other coat is Being cleaned; Gone for […]

On a lonely selection far out in the West An old woman works all the day without rest, And she croons, as she toils ‘neath the sky’s glassy dome, ‘Sure I’ll keep the ould place till the childer come home.’ She mends all the fences, she grubs, and she ploughs, She drives the old horse […]

He had offices in Sydney, not so many years ago, And his shingle bore the legend ‘Peter Anderson and Co.’, But his real name was Careless, as the fellows understood — And his relatives decided that he wasn’t any good. ‘Twas their gentle tongues that blasted any ‘character’ he had — He was fond of […]

Since Then

Story type: Poetry

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I met Jack Ellis in town to-day — Jack Ellis — my old mate, Jack — Ten years ago, from the Castlereagh, We carried our swags together away To the Never-Again, Out Back. But times have altered since those old days, And the times have changed the men. Ah, well! there’s little to blame or […]

When you’ve come to make a fortune and you haven’t made your salt, And the reason of your failure isn’t anybody’s fault — When you haven’t got a billet, and the times are very slack, There is nothing that can spur you like the shame of going back; Crawling home with empty pockets, Going back […]

The squatter saw his pastures wide Decrease, as one by one The farmers moving to the west Selected on his run; Selectors took the water up And all the black soil round; The best grass-land the squatter had Was spoilt by Ross’s Ground. Now many schemes to shift old Ross Had racked the squatter’s brains, […]

The Teams

Story type: Poetry

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A cloud of dust on the long white road, And the teams go creeping on Inch by inch with the weary load; And by the power of the green-hide goad The distant goal is won. With eyes half-shut to the blinding dust, And necks to the yokes bent low, The beasts are pulling as bullocks […]

Cameron’s Heart

Story type: Poetry

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The diggings were just in their glory when Alister Cameron came, With recommendations, he told me, from friends and a parson ‘at hame’; He read me his recommendations — he called them a part of his plant — The first one was signed by an Elder, the other by Cameron’s aunt. The meenister called him […]

Mount Bukaroo

Story type: Poetry

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Only one old post is standing — Solid yet, but only one — Where the milking, and the branding, And the slaughtering were done. Later years have brought dejection, Care, and sorrow; but we knew Happy days on that selection Underneath old Bukaroo. Then the light of day commencing Found us at the gully’s head, […]

Knocked Up

Story type: Poetry

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I’m lyin’ on the barren ground that’s baked and cracked with drought, And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out; I’ve got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin’ brow — I’m too knocked up to light a fire and bile the billy now. Oh it’s trampin’, trampin’, […]

Above the ashes straight and tall, Through ferns with moisture dripping, I climb beneath the sandstone wall, My feet on mosses slipping. Like ramparts round the valley’s edge The tinted cliffs are standing, With many a broken wall and ledge, And many a rocky landing. And round about their rugged feet Deep ferny dells are […]

The City Bushman

Story type: Poetry

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It was pleasant up the country, City Bushman, where you went, For you sought the greener patches and you travelled like a gent; And you curse the trams and buses and the turmoil and the push, Though you know the squalid city needn’t keep you from the bush; But we lately heard you singing of […]

Eurunderee

Story type: Poetry

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There are scenes in the distance where beauty is not, On the desolate flats where gaunt appletrees rot. Where the brooding old ridge rises up to the breeze From his dark lonely gullies of stringy-bark trees, There are voice-haunted gaps, ever sullen and strange, But Eurunderee lies like a gem in the range. Still I […]

When I was up the country in the rough and early days, I used to work along ov Jimmy Nowlett’s bullick-drays; Then the reelroad wasn’t heered on, an’ the bush was wild an’ strange, An’ we useter draw the timber from the saw-pits in the range — Load provisions for the stations, an’ we’d travel […]

Corny Bill

Story type: Poetry

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His old clay pipe stuck in his mouth, His hat pushed from his brow, His dress best fitted for the South — I think I see him now; And when the city streets are still, And sleep upon me comes, I often dream that me an’ Bill Are humpin’ of our drums. I mind the […]

Cherry-Tree Inn

Story type: Poetry

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The rafters are open to sun, moon, and star, Thistles and nettles grow high in the bar — The chimneys are crumbling, the log fires are dead, And green mosses spring from the hearthstone instead. The voices are silent, the bustle and din, For the railroad hath ruined the Cherry-tree Inn. Save the glimmer of […]

Up The Country

Story type: Poetry

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I am back from up the country — very sorry that I went — Seeking for the Southern poets’ land whereon to pitch my tent; I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track, Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I’m glad that I am back. Further out may be […]

We boast no more of our bloodless flag, that rose from a nation’s slime; Better a shred of a deep-dyed rag from the storms of the olden time. From grander clouds in our ‘peaceful skies’ than ever were there before I tell you the Star of the South shall rise — in the lurid clouds […]

Day of ending for beginnings! Ocean hath another innings, Ocean hath another score; And the surges sing his winnings, And the surges shout his winnings, And the surges shriek his winnings, All along the sullen shore. Sing another dirge in wailing, For another vessel sailing With the shadow-ships at sea; Shadow-ships for ever sinking — […]

Ben Duggan

Story type: Poetry

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Jack Denver died on Talbragar when Christmas Eve began, And there was sorrow round the place, for Denver was a man; Jack Denver’s wife bowed down her head — her daughter’s grief was wild, And big Ben Duggan by the bed stood sobbing like a child. But big Ben Duggan saddled up, and galloped fast […]

When the kindly hours of darkness, save for light of moon and star, Hide the picture on the signboard over Doughty’s Horse Bazaar; When the last rose-tint is fading on the distant mulga scrub, Then the Army prays for Watty at the entrance of his pub. Now, I often sit at Watty’s when the night […]

Some carry their swags in the Great North-West Where the bravest battle and die, And a few have gone to their last long rest, And a few have said “Good-bye!” The coast grows dim, and it may be long Ere the Gums again I see; So I put my soul in a farewell song To […]

Taking His Chance

Story type: Poetry

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They stood by the door of the Inn on the Rise; May Carney looked up in the bushranger’s eyes: ‘Oh! why did you come? — it was mad of you, Jack; You know that the troopers are out on your track.’ A laugh and a shake of his obstinate head — ‘I wanted a dance, […]

Across the stony ridges, Across the rolling plain, Young Harry Dale, the drover, Comes riding home again. And well his stock-horse bears him, And light of heart is he, And stoutly his old pack-horse Is trotting by his knee. Up Queensland way with cattle He travelled regions vast; And many months have vanished Since home-folk […]

By homestead, hut, and shearing-shed, By railroad, coach, and track– By lonely graves of our brave dead, Up-Country and Out-Back: To where ‘neath glorious clustered stars The dreamy plains expand– My home lies wide a thousand miles In the Never-Never Land. It lies beyond the farming belt, Wide wastes of scrub and plain, A blazing […]

Sweeney

Story type: Poetry

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It was somewhere in September, and the sun was going down, When I came, in search of ‘copy’, to a Darling-River town; ‘Come-and-have-a-drink’ we’ll call it — ’tis a fitting name, I think — And ’twas raining, for a wonder, up at Come-and-have-a-drink. ‘Neath the public-house verandah I was resting on a bunk When a […]

Tall and freckled and sandy, Face of a country lout; This was the picture of Andy, Middleton’s Rouseabout. Type of a coming nation, In the land of cattle and sheep, Worked on Middleton’s station, ‘Pound a week and his keep.’ On Middleton’s wide dominions Plied the stockwhip and shears; Hadn’t any opinions, Hadn’t any ‘idears’. […]

The Vagabond

Story type: Poetry

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White handkerchiefs wave from the short black pier As we glide to the grand old sea — But the song of my heart is for none to hear If one of them waves for me. A roving, roaming life is mine, Ever by field or flood — For not far back in my father’s line […]

When the caravans of wool-teams climbed the ranges from the West, On a spur among the mountains stood ‘The Bullock-drivers’ Rest’; It was built of bark and saplings, and was rather rough inside, But ’twas good enough for bushmen in the careless days that died — Just a quiet little shanty kept by ‘Something-in-Disguise’, As […]

Three bushmen one morning rode up to an inn, And one of them called for the drinks with a grin; They’d only returned from a trip to the North, And, eager to greet them, the landlord came forth. He absently poured out a glass of Three Star. And set down that drink with the rest […]

Past Carin’

Story type: Poetry

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Now up and down the siding brown The great black crows are flyin’, And down below the spur, I know, Another ‘milker’s’ dyin’; The crops have withered from the ground, The tank’s clay bed is glarin’, But from my heart no tear nor sound, For I have gone past carin’ — Past worryin’ or carin’, […]

The colours of the setting sun Withdrew across the Western land — He raised the sliprails, one by one, And shot them home with trembling hand; Her brown hands clung — her face grew pale — Ah! quivering chin and eyes that brim! — One quick, fierce kiss across the rail, And, ‘Good-bye, Mary!’ ‘Good-bye, […]

Trooper Campbell

Story type: Poetry

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One day old Trooper Campbell Rode out to Blackman’s Run, His cap-peak and his sabre Were glancing in the sun. ‘Twas New Year’s Eve, and slowly Across the ridges low The sad Old Year was drifting To where the old years go. The trooper’s mind was reading The love-page of his life — His love […]

It chanced upon the very day we’d got the shearing done, A buggy brought a stranger to the West-o’-Sunday Run; He had a round and jolly face, and he was sleek and stout, He drove right up between the huts and called the super out. We chaps were smoking after tea, and heard the swell […]

Our Andy’s gone to battle now ‘Gainst Drought, the red marauder; Our Andy’s gone with cattle now Across the Queensland border. He’s left us in dejection now; Our hearts with him are roving. It’s dull on this selection now, Since Andy went a-droving. Who now shall wear the cheerful face In times when things are […]

‘Sez You’

Story type: Poetry

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When the heavy sand is yielding backward from your blistered feet, And across the distant timber you can SEE the flowing heat; When your head is hot and aching, and the shadeless plain is wide, And it’s fifteen miles to water in the scrub the other side — Don’t give up, don’t be down-hearted, to […]

I met her on the Lachlan Side — A darling girl I thought her, And ere I left I swore I’d win The free-selector’s daughter. I milked her father’s cows a month, I brought the wood and water, I mended all the broken fence, Before I won the daughter. I listened to her father’s yarns, […]

Out Back

Story type: Poetry

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The old year went, and the new returned, in the withering weeks of drought, The cheque was spent that the shearer earned, and the sheds were all cut out; The publican’s words were short and few, and the publican’s looks were black — And the time had come, as the shearer knew, to carry his […]

‘For’ard’

Story type: Poetry

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It is stuffy in the steerage where the second-classers sleep, For there’s near a hundred for’ard, and they’re stowed away like sheep, — They are trav’lers for the most part in a straight ‘n’ honest path; But their linen’s rather scanty, an’ there isn’t any bath — Stowed away like ewes and wethers that is […]

The Roaring Days

Story type: Poetry

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The night too quickly passes And we are growing old, So let us fill our glasses And toast the Days of Gold; When finds of wondrous treasure Set all the South ablaze, And you and I were faithful mates All through the roaring days! Then stately ships came sailing From every harbour’s mouth, And sought […]

They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown; For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet My window-sill is level with the faces in the street — Drifting past, drifting past, To the beat of weary feet — While […]

The world is narrow and ways are short, and our lives are dull and slow, For little is new where the crowds resort, and less where the wanderers go; Greater, or smaller, the same old things we see by the dull road-side — And tired of all is the spirit that sings of the days […]

To An Old Mate

Story type: Poetry

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Old Mate! In the gusty old weather, When our hopes and our troubles were new, In the years spent in wearing out leather, I found you unselfish and true — I have gathered these verses together For the sake of our friendship and you. You may think for awhile, and with reason, Though still with […]

Did you ever trace back your Christmas days?–right back to the days when you were innocent and Santa Claus was real. At times you thought you were very wicked, but you never realize how innocent you were until you’ve grown up and knocked about the world. Let me think! Christmas in an English village, with […]

His Brother’s Keeper

Story type: Literature

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By his paths through the parched desolation, Hot rides and the terrible tramps; By the hunger, the thirst, the privation Of his work in the furthermost camps; By his worth in the light that shall search men And prove–ay! and justify each– I place him in front of all Churchmen Who feel not, who know […]

God’s preacher, of churches unheeded, God’s vineyard, though barren the sod, Plain spokesman where spokesman is needed, Rough link ‘twixt the Bushman and God. The Christ of the Never. TOLD BY JOE WILSON I never told you about Peter M’Laughlan. He was a sort of bush missionary up-country and out back in Australia, and before […]

A RATHER FISHY YARN FROM THE BUSH (AS TOLD BY JAMES NOWLETT, BULLOCK-DRIVER) You might work this yarn up. I’ve often thought of doin’ it meself, but I ain’t got the words. I knowed a lot of funny an’ rum yarns about the bush, an’ I often wished I had the gift o’ writin’. I […]

A Droving Yarn

Story type: Literature

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Andy Maculloch had heard that old Bill Barker, the well-known overland drover, had died over on the Westralian side, and Dave Regan told a yarn about Bill. “Bill Barker,” said Dave, talking round his pipe stem, “was the quintessence of a drover–“ “The whatter, Dave?” came the voice of Jim Bentley, in startled tones, from […]

This is a sketch of one of the many ways in which a young married woman, who is naturally thick-skinned and selfish–as most women are–and who thinks she loves her husband, can spoil his life because he happens to be good-natured, generous, sensitive, weak or soft, whichever you like to call it. Johnson went out […]

There had been heavy rain and landslips all along the branch railway which left the Great Western Line from Sydney just beyond the Blue Mountains, and ran through thick bush and scrubby ridgy country and along great alluvial sidings–were the hills on the opposite side of the wide valleys (misty in depths) faded from deep […]

The Bush-Fire

Story type: Literature

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I SQUATTER AND SELECTOR Wall was a squatter and a hard man. There had been long years of drought and loss, and then came the rabbit pest–the rabbits swarmed like flies over his run, and cropped the ground bare where even the poor grass might have saved thousands of sheep–and the rabbits cost the squatter […]

"Buckolts’ Gate"

Story type: Literature

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PROLOGUE Old Abel Albury had a genius for getting the bull by the tail with a tight grip, and holding on with both hands and an obstinacy born of ignorance–and not necessarily for the sake of self-preservation or selfishness–while all the time the bull might be, so to speak, rooting up life-long friendships and neighbourly […]

The Romance Of The Swag

Story type: Literature

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The Australian swag fashion is the easiest way in the world of carrying a load. I ought to know something about carrying loads: I’ve carried babies, which are the heaviest and most awkward and heartbreaking loads in this world for a boy or man to carry, I fancy. God remember mothers who slave about the […]

The Sex Problem Again

Story type: Literature

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It was Mitchell’s habit to take an evening off now and then from yarning or reflecting, and proceed, in a most methodical manner, to wash his spare shirts and patch his pants. I was in the habit of contributing to some Sydney papers, and every man is an editor at heart, so, at other times, […]

The Boozers’ Home

Story type: Literature

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“A dipsomaniac,” said Mitchell, “needs sympathy and commonsense treatment. (Sympathy’s a grand and glorious thing, taking it all round and looking at it any way you will: a little of it makes a man think that the world’s a good world after all, and there’s room and hope for sinners, and that life’s worth living; […]

The Lost Souls’ Hotel

Story type: Literature

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Hunqerford Road, February. One hundred and thirty miles of heavy reddish sand, bordered by dry, hot scrubs. Dense cloud of hot dust. Four wool-teams passing through a gate in a “rabbit proof” fence which crosses the road. Clock, clock, clock of wheels and rattle and clink of chains, crack of whips and explosions of Australian […]

The Shearer’s Dream

Story type: Literature

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Mitchell and I rolled up our swags after New Year and started to tramp west. It had been a very bad season after a long drought. Old Baldy Thompson had only shorn a few bales of grass-seed and burrs, so he said, and thought of taking the track himself; but we hoped to get on […]

. . . For thirst is long and throats is short Among the sons o’ men. M. J. C. I Wish I was spifflicated before I ever seen a pub! You see, it’s this way. Suppose a cove comes along on a blazin’ hot day in the drought–an’ you ought to know how hell-hot it […]

A Sketch Of Mateship

Story type: Literature

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Bill and Jim, professional shearers, were coming into Bourke from the Queensland side. They were horsemen and had two packhorses. At the last camp before Bourke Jim’s packhorse got disgusted and home-sick during the night and started back for the place where he was foaled. Jim was little more than a new-chum jackaroo; he was […]

Two Sundowners

Story type: Literature

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Sheep stations in Australia are any distance from twenty to a hundred miles apart, to keep well within the boundaries of truth and the great pastoral country. Shearing at any one shed only lasts a few weeks in the year; the number of men employed is according to the size of the shed–from three to […]

They judge not and they are not judged–’tis their philosophy– (There’s something wrong with every ship that sails upon the sea). -The Ballad of the Rouseabout. “And what became of One-eyed Bogan?” I asked Tom Hall when I met him and Jack Mitchell down in Sydney with their shearing cheques the Christmas before last. “You’d […]

"Lord Douglas"

Story type: Literature

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They hold him true, who’s true to one, However false he be. -The Rouseabout of Rouseabouts. The Imperial Hotel was rather an unfortunate name for an out-back town pub, for out back is the stronghold of Australian democracy; it was the out-back vote and influence that brought about “One Man One Vote,” “Payment of Members,” […]

Now I often sit at Watty’s, when the night is very near, With a head that’s full of jingles–and the fumes of bottled beer; For I always have a fancy that, if I am over there When the Army prays for Watty, I’m included in the prayer. It would take a lot of praying, lots […]

Send Round The Hat

Story type: Literature

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Now this is the creed from the Book of the Bush– Should be simple and plain to a dunce: “If a man’s in a hole you must pass round the hat Were he jail-bird or gentleman once.” “Is it any harm to wake yer?” It was about nine o’clock in the morning, and, though it […]

On the diggings up to twenty odd years ago–and as far back as I can remember–on Lambing Flat, the Pipe Clays, Gulgong, Home Rule, and so through the roaring list; in bark huts, tents, public-houses, sly grog shanties, and–well, the most glorious voice of all belonged to a bad girl. We were only children and […]

Andy Page’s Rival

Story type: Literature

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Tall and freckled and sandy, Face of a country lout; That was the picture of Andy– Middleton’s rouseabout. On Middleton’s wide dominions Plied the stock-whip and shears; Hadn’t any opinions—— And he hadn’t any “ideers”–at least, he said so himself–except as regarded anything that looked to him like what he called “funny business”, under which […]

I’d been humping my back, and crouching and groaning for an hour or so in the darkest corner of the travellers’ hut, tortured by the demon of sandy blight. It was too hot to travel, and there was no one there except ourselves and Mitchell’s cattle pup. We were waiting till after sundown, for I […]

"Middleton’s Peter"

Story type: Literature

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I. The First Born The struggling squatter is to be found in Australia as well as the “struggling farmer”. The Australian squatter is not always the mighty wool king that English and American authors and other uninformed people apparently imagine him to be. Squatting, at the best, is but a game of chance. It depends […]

The Iron-Bark Chip

Story type: Literature

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Dave Regan and party–bush-fencers, tank-sinkers, rough carpenters, &c.–were; finishing the third and last culvert of their contract on the last section of the new railway line, and had already sent in their vouchers for the completed contract, so that there might be no excuse for extra delay in connection with the cheque. Now it had […]

Mitchell on Women

Story type: Literature

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“All the same,” said Mitchell’s mate, continuing an argument by the camp-fire; “all the same, I think that a woman can stand cold water better than a man. Why, when I was staying in a boarding-house in Dunedin, one very cold winter, there was a lady lodger who went down to the shower-bath first thing […]

Mitchell on Matrimony

Story type: Literature

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“I suppose your wife will be glad to see you,” said Mitchell to his mate in their camp by the dam at Hungerford. They were overhauling their swags, and throwing away the blankets, and calico, and old clothes, and rubbish they didn’t want–everything, in fact, except their pocket-books and letters and portraits, things which men […]

“And then there was Dave Regan,” said the traveller. “Dave used to die oftener than any other bushman I knew. He was always being reported dead and turnin’ up again. He seemed to like it–except once, when his brother drew his money and drank it all to drown his grief at what he called Dave’s […]

“When we were up country on the selection, we had a rooster at our place, named Bill,” said Mitchell; “a big mongrel of no particular breed, though the old lady said he was a ‘brammer’–and many an argument she had with the old man about it too; she was just as stubborn and obstinate in […]

Mitchell’s Jobs

Story type: Literature

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“I’m going to knock off work and try to make some money,” said Mitchell, as he jerked the tea-leaves out of his pannikin and reached for the billy. “It’s been the great mistake of my life–if I hadn’t wasted all my time and energy working and looking for work I might have been an independent […]

No Place for a Woman

Story type: Literature

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He had a selection on a long box-scrub siding of the ridges, about half a mile back and up from the coach road. There were no neighbours that I ever heard of, and the nearest “town” was thirty miles away. He grew wheat among the stumps of his clearing, sold the crop standing to a […]

Meeting Old Mates

Story type: Literature

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I. Tom Smith You are getting well on in the thirties, and haven’t left off being a fool yet. You have been away in another colony or country for a year or so, and have now come back again. Most of your chums have gone away or got married, or, worse still, signed the pledge–settled […]

Bush Cats

Story type: Literature

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“Domestic cats” we mean–the descendants of cats who came from the northern world during the last hundred odd years. We do not know the name of the vessel in which the first Thomas and his Maria came out to Australia, but we suppose that it was one of the ships of the First Fleet. Most […]

"A Rough Shed"

Story type: Literature

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A hot, breathless, blinding sunrise–the sun having appeared suddenly above the ragged edge of the barren scrub like a great disc of molten steel. No hint of a morning breeze before it, no sign on earth or sky to show that it is morning–save the position of the sun. A clearing in the scrub–bare as […]

Mr. Smellingscheck

Story type: Literature

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I met him in a sixpenny restaurant–“All meals, 6d.–Good beds, 1s.” That was before sixpenny restaurants rose to a third-class position, and became possibly respectable places to live in, through the establishment, beneath them, of fourpenny hash-houses (good beds, 6d.), and, beneath THEM again, of THREE-penny “dining-rooms–CLEAN beds, 4d.” There were five beds in our […]

Two Larrikins

Story type: Literature

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“Y’orter do something, Ernie. Yer know how I am. YOU don’t seem to care. Y’orter to do something.” Stowsher slouched at a greater angle to the greasy door-post, and scowled under his hat-brim. It was a little, low, frowsy room opening into Jones’ Alley. She sat at the table, sewing–a thin, sallow girl with weak, […]

Steelman and Smith–professional wanderers–were making back for Wellington, down through the wide and rather dreary-looking Hutt Valley. They were broke. They carried their few remaining belongings in two skimpy, amateurish-looking swags. Steelman had fourpence left. They were very tired and very thirsty–at least Steelman was, and he answered for both. It was Smith’s policy to […]

Payable Gold

Story type: Literature

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Among the crowds who left the Victorian side for New South Wales about the time Gulgong broke out was an old Ballarat digger named Peter McKenzie. He had married and retired from the mining some years previously and had made a home for himself and family at the village of St. Kilda, near Melbourne; but, […]

The Exciseman

Story type: Literature

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Harry Chatswood, mail contractor (and several other things), was driving out from, say, Georgeville to Croydon, with mails, parcels, and only one passenger–a commercial traveller, who had shown himself unsociable, and close in several other ways. Nearly half-way to a place that was half-way between the halfway house and the town, Harry overhauled “Old Jack,” […]

How we do misquote sayings, or misunderstand them when quoted rightly! For instance, we “wait for something to turn up, like Micawber,” careless or ignorant of the fact that Micawber worked harder than all the rest put together for the leading characters’ sakes; he was the chief or only instrument in straightening out of the […]

The Bath

Story type: Literature

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The moral should be revived. Therefore, this is a story with a moral. The lower end of Bill Street–otherwise William–overlooks Blue’s Point Road, with a vacant wedge-shaped allotment running down from a Scottish church between Bill Street the aforesaid and the road, and a terrace on the other side of the road. A cheap, mean-looking […]

Instinct Gone Wrong

Story type: Literature

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Old Mac used to sleep in his wagon in fine weather, when he had no load, on his blankets spread out on the feed-bags; but one time he struck Croydon, flush from a lucky and good back trip, and looked in at the (say) Royal Hotel to wet his luck–as some men do with their […]

The Hypnotized Township

Story type: Literature

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They said that Harry Chatswood, the mail contractor would do anything for Cobb & Co., even to stretching fencing-wire across the road in a likely place: but I don’t believe that–Harry was too good-hearted to risk injuring innocent passengers, and he had a fellow feeling for drivers, being an old coach driver on rough out-back […]

"Roll Up At Talbragar"

Story type: Literature

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Jack Denver died at Talbragar when Christmas Eve began, And there was sorrow round the place, for Denver was a man; Jack Denver’s wife bowed down her head–her daughter’s grief was wild, And big Ben Duggan by the bed stood sobbing like a child. But big Ben Duggan saddled up, and galloped fast and far, […]

Wanted By The Police

Story type: Literature

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Could it have been the Soul of Man and none higher that gave spoken and written word to the noblest precepts of human nature? For the deeper you sound it the more noble it seems, in spite of all the wrong, injustice, sin, sorrow, pain, religion, atheism, and cynics in the world. We make (or […]

The Rising Of The Court

Story type: Literature

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Oh, then tell us, Sings and Judges, where our meeting is to be, when the laws of men are nothing, and our spirits all are free when the laws of men are nothing, and no wealth can hold the fort, There’ll be thirst for mighty brewers at the Rising of the Court. The same dingy […]

For Auld Lang Syne

Story type: Literature

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These were ten of us there on the wharf when our first mate left for Maoriland, he having been forced to leave Sydney because he could not get anything like regular work, nor anything like wages for the work he could get. He was a carpenter and joiner, a good tradesman and a rough diamond. […]

Macquarie’s Mate

Story type: Literature

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The chaps in the bar of Stiffner’s shanty were talking about Macquarie, an absent shearer–who seemed, from their conversation, to be better known than liked by them. “I ain’t seen Macquarie for ever so long,” remarked Box-o’-Tricks, after a pause. “Wonder where he could ‘a’ got to?” “Jail, p’r’aps–or hell,” growled Barcoo. “He ain’t much […]

Baldy Thompson

Story type: Literature

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Rough, squarish face, curly auburn wig, bushy grey eyebrows and moustache, and grizzly stubble–eyes that reminded one of Dampier the actor. He was a squatter of the old order–new chum, swagman, drover, shearer, super, pioneer, cocky, squatter, and finally bank victim. He had been through it all, and knew all about it. He had been […]

Bogg Of Geebung

Story type: Literature

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At the local police court, where the subject of this sketch turned up periodically amongst the drunks, he had “James” prefixed to his name for the sake of convenience and as a matter of form previous to his being fined forty shillings (which he never paid) and sentenced to “a month hard” (which he contrived […]

She Wouldn’t Speak

Story type: Literature

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Well, we reached the pub about dinner-time, dropped our swags outside, had a drink, and then went into the dinin’-room. There was a lot of jackaroo swells, that had been on a visit to the squatter, or something, and they were sittin’ down at dinner; and they seemed to think by their looks that we […]

The Geological Spieler

Story type: Literature

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There’s nothing so interesting as Geology, even to common and ignorant people, especially when you have a bank or the side of a cutting, studded with fossil fish and things and oysters that were stale when Adam was fresh to illustrate by. (Remark made by Steelman, professional wanderer, to his pal and pupil, Smith.) The […]

Two Dogs And A Fence

Story type: Literature

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“Nothing makes a dog madder,” said Mitchell, “than to have another dog come outside his fence and sniff and bark at him through the cracks when he can’t get out. The other dog might be an entire stranger; he might be an old chum, and he mightn’t bark–only sniff–but it makes no difference to the […]

Jones’s Alley

Story type: Literature

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She lived in Jones’s Alley. She cleaned offices, washed, and nursed from daylight until any time after dark, and filled in her spare time cleaning her own place (which she always found dirty–in a “beastly filthy state,” she called it–on account of the children being left in possession all day), cooking, and nursing her own […]

Our Pipes

Story type: Literature

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The moon rose away out on the edge of a smoky plain, seen through a sort of tunnel or arch in the fringe of mulga behind which we were camped–Jack Mitchell and I. The timber proper was just behind us, very thick and very dark. The moon looked like a big new copper boiler set […]

Coming Across

Story type: Literature

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We were delayed for an hour or so inside Sydney Heads, taking passengers from the Oroya, which had just arrived from England and anchored off Watson’s Bay. An Adelaide boat went alongside the ocean liner, while we dropped anchor at a respectable distance. This puzzled some of us until one of the passengers stopped an […]

It was a very mean station, and Mitchell thought he had better go himself and beard the overseer for tucker. His mates were for waiting till the overseer went out on the run, and then trying their luck with the cook; but the self-assertive and diplomatic Mitchell decided to go. “Good day,” said Mitchell. “Good […]

The Bush Undertaker

Story type: Literature

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“Five Bob!” The old man shaded his eyes and peered through the dazzling glow of that broiling Christmas Day. He stood just within the door of a slab-and-bark hut situated upon the bank of a barren creek; sheep-yards lay to the right, and a low line of bare, brown ridges formed a suitable background to […]

"Rats"

Story type: Literature

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“Why, there’s two of them, and they’re having a fight! Come on.”‘ It seemed a strange place for a fight–that hot, lonely, cotton-bush plain. And yet not more than half a mile ahead there were apparently two men struggling together on the track. The three travellers postponed their smoke-ho and hurried on. They were shearers–a […]

His Colonial Oath

Story type: Literature

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I lately met an old schoolmate of mine up-country. He was much changed. He was tall and lank, and had the most hideous bristly red beard I ever saw. He was working on his father’s farm. He shook hands, looked anywhere but in my face–and said nothing. Presently I remarked at a venture “So poor […]

A Visit Of Condolence

Story type: Literature

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“Does Arvie live here, old woman?” “Why?” “Strike me dead! carn’t yer answer a civil queschin?” “How dare you talk to me like that, you young larrikin! Be off! or I’ll send for a policeman.” “Blarst the cops! D’yer think I cares for ’em? Fur two pins I’d fetch a push an’ smash yer ole […]

Steelman’s Pupil

Story type: Literature

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Steelman was a hard case, but some said that Smith was harder. Steelman was big and good-looking, and good-natured in his way; he was a spieler, pure and simple, but did things in humorous style. Smith was small and weedy, of the sneak variety; he had a whining tone and a cringing manner. He seemed […]

Board And Residence

Story type: Literature

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One o’clock on Saturday. The unemployed’s one o’clock on Saturday! Nothing more can be done this week, so you drag yourself wearily and despairingly “home,” with the cheerful prospect of a penniless Saturday afternoon and evening and the long horrible Australian-city Sunday to drag through. One of the landlady’s clutch–and she is an old hen–opens […]

Some Day

Story type: Literature

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The two travellers had yarned late in their camp, and the moon was getting low down through the mulga. Mitchell’s mate had just finished a rather racy yarn, but it seemed to fall flat on Mitchell–he was in a sentimental mood. He smoked a while, and thought, and then said: “Ah! there was one little […]

Brummy Usen

Story type: Literature

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We caught up with an old swagman crossing the plain, and tramped along with him till we came to good shade to have a smoke in. We had got yarning about men getting lost in the bush or going away and being reported dead. “Yes,” said the old ‘whaler’, as he dropped his swag in […]

At least two hundred poor beggars were counted sleeping out on the pavements of the main streets of Sydney the other night–grotesque bundles of rags lying under the verandas of the old Fruit Markets and York Street shops, with their heads to the wall and their feet to the gutter. It was raining and cold […]

Across The Straits

Story type: Literature

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We crossed Cook’s Straits from Wellington in one of those rusty little iron tanks that go up and down and across there for twenty or thirty years and never get wrecked–for no other reason, apparently, than that they have every possible excuse to go ashore or go down on those stormy coasts. The age, construction, […]

It was the first Monday after the holidays. The children had taken their seats in the Old Bark School, and the master called out the roll as usual: “Arvie Aspinall.”…”‘Es, sir.” “David Cooper.”…”Yes, sir.” “John Heegard.”…”Yezzer.” “Joseph Swallow.”…”Yesser.” “James Bullock.”…”Present.” “Frederick Swallow.”…”Y’sir.” “James Nowlett.”….(Chorus of “Absent.”) “William Atkins.”…(Chorus of “Absent.”) “Daniel Lyons.”…”Perresent, sor-r-r.” Dan was […]

The dog was a little conservative mongrel poodle, with long dirty white hair all over him–longest and most over his eyes, which glistened through it like black beads. Also he seemed to have a bad liver. He always looked as if he was suffering from a sense of injury, past or to come. It did […]

Shooting The Moon

Story type: Literature

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We lay in camp in the fringe of the mulga, and watched the big, red, smoky, rising moon out on the edge of the misty plain, and smoked and thought together sociably. Our nose-bags were nice and heavy, and we still had about a pound of nail-rod between us. The moon reminded my mate, Jack […]

His Father’s Mate

Story type: Literature

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It was Golden Gully still, but golden in name only, unless indeed the yellow mullock heaps or the bloom of the wattle-trees on the hillside gave it a claim to the title. But the gold was gone from the gully, and the diggers were gone, too, after the manner of Timon’s friends when his wealth […]

Remailed

Story type: Literature

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There is an old custom prevalent in Australasia–and other parts, too, perhaps, for that matter–which, we think, deserves to be written up. It might not be an “honoured” custom from a newspaper manager’s or proprietor’s point of view, or from the point of view (if any) occupied by the shareholders on the subject; but, nevertheless, […]

“If ever I do get a job again,” said Mitchell, “I’ll stick to it while there’s a hand’s turn of work to do, and put a few pounds together. I won’t be the fool I always was. If I’d had sense a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t be tramping through this damned sand and […]

Steelman

Story type: Literature

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Steelman was a hard case. If you were married, and settled down, and were so unfortunate as to have known Steelman in other days, he would, if in your neighbourhood and dead-beat, be sure to look you up. He would find you anywhere, no matter what precautions you might take. If he came to your […]

Drifted Back

Story type: Literature

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The stranger walked into the corner grocery with the air of one who had come back after many years to see someone who would be glad to see him. He shed his swag and stood it by the wall with great deliberation; then he rested his elbow on the counter, stroked his beard, and grinned […]

He’d Come Back

Story type: Literature

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The yarn was all lies, I suppose; but it wasn’t bad. A city bushman told it, of course, and he told it in the travellers’ hut. “As true’s God hears me I never meant to desert her in cold blood,” he said. “We’d only been married about two years, and we’d got along grand together; […]

“I’ll get down among the cockies along the Lachlan, or some of these rivers,” said Mitchell, throwing down his swag beneath a big tree. “A man stands a better show down there. It’s a mistake to come out back. I knocked around a good deal down there among the farms. Could always get plenty of […]

On The Edge Of A Plain

Story type: Literature

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“I’d been away from home for eight years,” said Mitchell to his mate, as they dropped their swags in the mulga shade and sat down. “I hadn’t written a letter–kept putting it off, and a blundering fool of a fellow that got down the day before me told the old folks that he’d heard I […]

Stragglers

Story type: Literature

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An oblong hut, walled with blue-grey hardwood slabs, adzed at the ends and set horizontally between the round sapling studs; high roof of the eternal galvanized iron. A big rubbish heap lies about a yard to the right of the door, which opens from the middle of one of the side walls; it might be […]

While out boating one Sunday afternoon on a billabong across the river, we saw a young man on horseback driving some horses along the bank. He said it was a fine day, and asked if the Water was deep there. The joker of our party said it was deep enough to drown him, and he […]

Going Blind

Story type: Literature

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I met him in the Full-and-Plenty Dining Rooms. It was a cheap place in the city, with good beds upstairs let at one shilling per night–“Board and residence for respectable single men, fifteen shillings per week.” I was a respectable single man then. I boarded and resided there. I boarded at a greasy little table […]

In one of these years a paragraph appeared in a daily paper to the effect that a constable had discovered a little boy asleep on the steps of Grinder Bros’ factory at four o’clock one rainy morning. He awakened him, and demanded an explanation. The little fellow explained that he worked there, and was frightened […]

A Day On A Selection

Story type: Literature

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The scene is a small New South Wales western selection, the holder whereof is native-English. His wife is native-Irish. Time, Sunday, about 8 a.m. A used-up looking woman comes from the slab-and-bark house, turns her face towards the hillside, and shrieks: “T-o-o-mmay!” No response, and presently she draws a long breath and screams again: “Tomm-a-a-y!” […]

Macquarie the shearer had met with an accident. To tell the truth, he had been in a drunken row at a wayside shanty, from which he had escaped with three fractured ribs, a cracked head, and various minor abrasions. His dog, Tally, had been a sober but savage participator in the drunken row, and had […]

Hungerford

Story type: Literature

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One of the hungriest cleared roads in New South Wales runs to within a couple of miles of Hungerford, and stops there; then you strike through the scrub to the town. There is no distant prospect of Hungerford–you don’t see the town till you are quite close to it, and then two or three white-washed […]

A Camp-Fire Yarn

Story type: Literature

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“This girl,” said Mitchell, continuing a yarn to his mate, “was about the ugliest girl I ever saw, except one, and I’ll tell you about her directly. The old man had a carpenter’s shop fixed up in a shed at the back of his house, and he used to work there pretty often, and sometimes […]

The Blenheim coach was descending into the valley of the Avetere River–pronounced Aveterry–from the saddle of Taylor’s Pass. Across the river to the right, the grey slopes and flats stretched away to the distant sea from a range of tussock hills. There was no native bush there; but there were several groves of imported timber […]

We were tramping down in Canterbury, Maoriland, at the time, swagging it–me and Bill–looking for work on the new railway line. Well, one afternoon, after a long, hot tramp, we comes to Stiffner’s Hotel–between Christchurch and that other place–I forget the name of it–with throats on us like sunstruck bones, and not the price of […]

When The Sun Went Down

Story type: Literature

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Jack Drew sat on the edge of the shaft, with his foot in the loop and one hand on the rope, ready to descend. His elder brother, Tom, stood at one end of the windlass and the third mate at the other. Jack paused before swinging off, looked up at his brother, and impulsively held […]

Settling On The Land

Story type: Literature

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The worst bore in Australia just now is the man who raves about getting the people on the land, and button-holes you in the street with a little scheme of his own. He generally does not know what he is talking about. There is in Sydney a man named Tom Hopkins who settled on the […]

Enter Mitchell

Story type: Literature

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The Western train had just arrived at Redfern railway station with a lot of ordinary passengers and one swagman. He was short, and stout, and bow-legged, and freckled, and sandy. He had red hair and small, twinkling, grey eyes, and–what often goes with such things–the expression of a born comedian. He was dressed in a […]

You remember when we hurried home from the old bush school how we were sometimes startled by a bearded apparition, who smiled kindly down on us, and whom our mother introduced, as we raked off our hats, as “An old mate of your father’s on the diggings, Johnny.” And he would pat our heads and […]

A Hero In Dingo-Scrubs

Story type: Literature

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This is a story–about the only one–of Job Falconer, Boss of the Talbragar sheep-station up country in New South Wales in the early Eighties–when there were still runs in the Dingo-Scrubs out of the hands of the banks, and yet squatters who lived on their stations. Job would never tell the story himself, at least […]

The Buck-Jumper

Story type: Literature

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Saturday afternoon. There were about a dozen Bush natives, from anywhere, most of them lanky and easy-going, hanging about the little slab-and-bark hotel on the edge of the scrub at Capertee Camp (a teamster’s camp) when Cob & Co.’s mail-coach and six came dashing down the siding from round Crown Ridge, in all its glory, […]

The Half-way House at Tinned Dog (Out-Back in Australia) kept Daniel Myers–licensed to retail spirituous and fermented liquors–in drink and the horrors for upward of five years, at the end of which time he lay hidden for weeks in a back skillion, an object which no decent man would care to see–or hear when it […]

I lately revisited a western agricultural district in Australia after many years. The railway had reached it, but otherwise things were drearily, hopelessly, depressingly unchanged. There was the same old grant, comprising several thousands of acres of the richest land in the district, lying idle still, except for a few horses allowed to run there […]

A Wild Irishman

Story type: Literature

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About seven years ago I drifted from Out-Back in Australia to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, and up country to a little town called Pahiatua, which meaneth the ‘home of the gods’, and is situated in the Wairarappa (rippling or sparkling water) district. They have a pretty little legend to the effect that the […]

At Dead Dingo

Story type: Literature

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It was blazing hot outside and smothering hot inside the weather-board and iron shanty at Dead Dingo, a place on the Cleared Road, where there was a pub. and a police-station, and which was sometimes called ‘Roasted’, and other times ‘Potted Dingo’–nicknames suggested by the everlasting drought and the vicinity of the one-pub. township of […]

Telling Mrs Baker

Story type: Literature

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Most Bushmen who hadn’t ‘known Bob Baker to speak to’, had ‘heard tell of him’. He’d been a squatter, not many years before, on the Macquarie river in New South Wales, and had made money in the good seasons, and had gone in for horse-racing and racehorse-breeding, and long trips to Sydney, where he put […]

The Babies In The Bush

Story type: Literature

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‘Oh, tell her a tale of the fairies bright–That only the Bushmen know–Who guide the feet of the lost aright,Or carry them up through the starry night,Where the Bush-lost babies go.’ He was one of those men who seldom smile. There are many in the Australian Bush, where drift wrecks and failures of all stations […]

A Bush Dance

Story type: Literature

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‘Tap, tap, tap, tap.’ The little schoolhouse and residence in the scrub was lighted brightly in the midst of the ‘close’, solid blackness of that moonless December night, when the sky and stars were smothered and suffocated by drought haze. It was the evening of the school children’s ‘Feast’. That is to say that the […]

The Chinaman’s Ghost

Story type: Literature

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‘Simple as striking matches,’ said Dave Regan, Bushman; ‘but it gave me the biggest scare I ever had–except, perhaps, the time I stumbled in the dark into a six-feet digger’s hole, which might have been eighty feet deep for all I knew when I was falling. (There was an eighty-feet shaft left open close by.) […]

The Ghostly Door

Story type: Literature

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Told by one of Dave’s mates. Dave and I were tramping on a lonely Bush track in New Zealand, making for a sawmill where we expected to get work, and we were caught in one of those three-days’ gales, with rain and hail in it and cold enough to cut off a man’s legs. Camping […]

The Loaded Dog

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Dave Regan, Jim Bently, and Andy Page were sinking a shaft at Stony Creek in search of a rich gold quartz reef which was supposed to exist in the vicinity. There is always a rich reef supposed to exist in the vicinity; the only questions are whether it is ten feet or hundreds beneath the […]

I. Dave Regan’s Yarn. ‘When we got tired of digging about Mudgee-Budgee, and getting no gold,’ said Dave Regan, Bushman, ‘me and my mate, Jim Bently, decided to take a turn at droving; so we went with Bob Baker, the drover, overland with a big mob of cattle, way up into Northern Queensland. ‘We couldn’t […]

Jim was born on Gulgong, New South Wales. We used to say ‘on’ Gulgong–and old diggers still talked of being ‘on th’ Gulgong’–though the goldfield there had been worked out for years, and the place was only a dusty little pastoral town in the scrubs. Gulgong was about the last of the great alluvial ‘rushes’ […]

"Water Them Geraniums"

Story type: Literature

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I. A Lonely Track. The time Mary and I shifted out into the Bush from Gulgong to ‘settle on the land’ at Lahey’s Creek. I’d sold the two tip-drays that I used for tank-sinking and dam-making, and I took the traps out in the waggon on top of a small load of rations and horse-feed […]

There are many times in this world when a healthy boy is happy. When he is put into knickerbockers, for instance, and ‘comes a man to-day,’ as my little Jim used to say. When they’re cooking something at home that he likes. When the ‘sandy-blight’ or measles breaks out amongst the children, or the teacher […]

I. Spuds, and a Woman’s Obstinacy. Ever since we were married it had been Mary’s great ambition to have a buggy. The house or furniture didn’t matter so much–out there in the Bush where we were–but, where there were no railways or coaches, and the roads were long, and mostly hot and dusty, a buggy […]