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The Shearer’s Dream
by [?]

lucerne: Alfalfa in US

mallee: dwarfed eucalyptus trees growing in very poor soil and under harsh rainfall conditions. Usually many stems emerging from the ground, creating a low thicket.

mateship: See Lawson story, “Mateship”. A heavily romanticised, but nevertheless very practical form of (male) loyalty to a (male) companion who travels with/works with him. A “mate” provides not only companionship, but help in emergencies. Typical of an Australian in the “outback”–or “Never-Never”, or under war conditions. A man without a mate was a “hatter”–“his hat covers his family”. Such a person might go “ratty” (see further in The romance of the Swag). Equivalent to the “buddy system” in SCUBA diving.

metalled: of a road, covered in crushed rock (e.g. “blue metal”)

mulga: Acacia sp. (“wattle” in Australian) especially Acacia aneura; growing in semi-desert conditions. Used as a description of such a harsh region.

mullock: the tailings left after gold has been removed. In Lawson generally mud (alluvial) rather than rock

myall: aboriginal living in a traditional–pre-conquest–manner

nobbler: a drink

nuggety: compact but strong physique; small but well-muscled

pastoralist: OED sees it a equivalent to “squatter”, but in Lawson someone often someone managing a large cattle/sheep “station” for a “pastoral company” rather than an individual. Seen as ultimate capitalist oppression.

pluddy: see crimson

quid: monetary unit; one pound

ratty: insane–or, very eccentric, “cranky”.

ringer: the champion sheep shearer in a shed that season

rouseabout: Labourer in a (sheep) shearing shed. Considered to be, as far as any work is, unskilled labour.

sawney: silly, gormless

scab: see blackleg

shout: In a group; to stand (pay for) a round of drinks. Bad form to leave before your turn comes around. Much peer pressure to drink more than one wished. One can also “shout” for everyone in the pub. skillion(-room): A “lean-to”, a room built up against the back of some other building, with separate roof.

spifflicated: punished, thrashed without mercy.

spree: prolonged drinking bout–days, weeks.

squatter: Someone who took up large areas of land, originally without official permission (“squatted”), for sheep especially. Became the “landed aristocracy” of Australia. (“Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred”)

steever: Originally a Dutch coin. Used here like “penny”–or brass razoo.

sundowner: a swagman (see) who is NOT looking for work, but a “handout”. Lawson explains the term as referring to someone who turns up at a station at sundown, just in time for “tea” i.e. the evening meal. Line (2494) of actual text (not counting P.G. matter). swagman (swaggy): Generally, anyone who is walking in the “outback” with a swag. (See “The Romance of the Swag”.) Lawson also restricts it at times to those whom he considers to be tramps, not looking for work but for “handouts”. In view of the Great Depression (1890->. In 1892 it was reckoned 1/3 men were out of work) perhaps unfairly. Perhaps because he was there. See `travellers’.

Tattersalls: The earliest public lottery in Australia. (1881)

tenner: a ten pound note. tin-kettling: making noise by striking metal pots/pans. May be celebratory (weddings–in this collection, New Year’s Eve), or may indicate extreme social disapproval of someone.

travellers: “shearers and rouseabouts travelling for work” (Lawson).