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Bogg Of Geebung
by [?]

There was the usual faded letter, a portrait of a girl, something that looked like a pressed flower, and, of course, a lock of hair. Presently Bogg folded his arms over these things, and his face sank lower and lower, till nothing was visible to the unsuspected watcher except the drunkard’s rough, shaggy hair; rougher and wilder looking in the uncertain light of the slush-lamp.

The larrikin turned away, and beckoned his comrades to follow him.

“Wot is it?” asked one, when they had gone some distance. The leader said, “We’re a-goin’ ter let ‘im alone; that’s wot it is.”

There was some demur at this, and an explanation was demanded; but the boss bully unbuttoned his coat, and spat on his hands, and said:

“We’re a-goin’ ter let Bogg alone; that’s wot it is.”

So they went away and let Bogg alone.

A few days later the following paragraph appeared in the Geebung Times: “A well-known character named Bogg was found drowned in the river on Sunday last, his hat and coat being found on the bank. At a late hour on Saturday night a member of our staff saw a man walking slowly along the river bank, but it was too dark to identify the person.”

We suppose it was Bogg whom the Times reported, but of course we cannot be sure. The chances are that it was Bogg. It was pretty evident that he had committed suicide, and being “a well-known character,” no doubt he had reasons for his rash act. Perhaps he was walking by himself in the dark along the river bank, and thinking of those reasons when the Times man saw him. Strange to say, the world knows least about the lives and sorrows of “well-known characters” of this kind, no matter what their names might be, and–well, there is no reason why we should bore a reader, or waste any more space over a well-known character named Bogg.


Notes on Australianisms

Based on my own speech over the years, with some checking in the dictionaries. Not all of these are peculiar to Australian slang, but are important in Lawson’s stories, and carry overtones.

bagman: commercial traveller

Bananaland: Queensland

billabong. Based on an aboriginal word. Sometimes used for an anabranch (a bend in a river cut off by a new channel, but more often used for one that, in dry season or droughts especially, is cut off at either or both ends from the main stream. It is often just a muddy pool, and may indeed dry up completely.

billy: quintessentially Australian. It is like (or may even be made out of) a medium-sized can, with wire handles and a lid. Used to boil water. If for tea, the leaves are added into the billy itself; the billy may be swung (‘to make the leaves settle’) or a eucalyptus twig place across the top, more ritual than pragmatic. These stories are supposedly told while the billy is suspended over the fire at night, at the end of a tramp. (Also used in want of other things, for cooking)

blackfellow (also, blackman): condescending for Australian Aboriginal

blackleg: someone who is employed to cross a union picket line to break a workers’ strike. As Molly Ivins said, she was brought up on the three great commandments: do not lie; do not steal; never cross a picket line. Also scab.

blanky or — : Fill in your own favourite word. Usually however used for “bloody”

blucher: a kind of half-boot (named after Austrian general)

blued: of a wages cheque: all spent extravagantly–and rapidly.

bluey: swag. Supposedly because blankets were mostly blue (so Lawson)

boggabri: never heard of it. It is a town in NSW: the dictionaries seem to suggest that it is a plant, which fits context. What then is a ‘tater-marrer’ (potato-marrow?). Any help?

bowyangs: ties (cord, rope, cloth) put around trouser legs below knee

bullocky: Bullock driver. A man who drove teams of bullocks yoked to wagons carrying e.g. wool bales or provisions. Proverbially rough and foul mouthed.