Tuesday, July 3, 2018


    There was a bloke who lived in Lake Cargelligo, Ray Montegue. I had seen him around Giltraps on many occasions. Although I was not particularly fond of him, I was also not antagonistic towards him. He hung out with his Social Circle and I with mine.

     Ray was married to one of the Gibson girls. She was a half-caste Aboriginal. The whole family had been brought up in the township, rather than on the Mission like most of the other Abbos'.

     Living at the Lake were another couple of characters who used to do a lot of painting. They were both from Yugoslavia. Tom Tomazin was one of the blokes and the other, who was his helper was called Ivan.

     On many occasions Rays' wife used to come down to Giltraps with him on the weekends. He would drink in the bar and she would do her drinking and socializing in the Sow Pen. On one of these evenings, Ivan, who happened to be in the Sow Pen, playing records on the Juke Box was introduced to Montegues' wife. Things being what they are, a spark of friendship began to blossom which soon turned into romance, which in turn, made them take off to Sydney where they decided to live together.

     From that day on, Montegue, who had been left with four small children, was very angry towards anyone who was not a born and bred Australian. Little by little, over a period of a few months, he started to focus his anger and frustration on me. It started off with the odd, dirty look and progressed to standing next to me, making crude remarks to his friends about Wogs and Pommys'  being no different from one another. I was never that insecure that I would get involved with his obvious problem. Once it became quite clear to him, he started to make his attacks on me more direct and personal.

     On many occasions, I simply walked away even though a few of my mates said,
"Jesus mate, I wouldn't put up with his crap for as long as you have!"

     I remember, It was a Friday evening. Gundy, myself and a few other shearers had just come into town from a camp-out shed on the Mount Hope Road. Once we'd cashed our checks over the bar, we found a quiet spot and proceeded to have a few well-deserved cold beers, after a hard week of sheering big, rough-necked wethers. We'd only been in the bar about an hour before Montegue started to make his way over to where we all sat.

     Montegue knew Gundy pretty well so he used that connection to advance his purpose. He would say things to Gundy, in front of me. For example;
"You're not shearing with that Pommy bastard are ya Gundy?" or "How can ya work with those wife-stealing Wog-Pommys?"
     As was my habit, I totally ignored him which sometimes made matters worse. When Montague went out to the toilet, I said to Gundy,
"Come on mate, let's go down to Twitcheys' place. At least we can have a cold beer in peace there."
"Why d'ya put up with all that shit Chummy?", said Gundy.
"Cause I know what he's going through mate."
"So do I sport but it's nothing to do with you. You didn't run off with his old lady!"
'Yeah, I know but what do I do about it?"
"Knock him arse over head mate. It'll wake the bastard up. He may have a lot of problems now but it's not right, him dumping 'em all on you and you're a bloody idiot for allowing him to get away with it for so long. He's never gonna stop, ya know. It'll get worse the more he gets away with it. Plus, he's fucking up our peaceful evening."

     At that moment, I knew that Gundy was absolutely right. The decision was made to do something about it, the next derogatory remark Montegue made.

     When he walked back in the bar from the toilet, he made a bee-line to where we were all sitting. It wasn't 5 minutes before he mouthed off something to Gundy about my background. Very casually, I finished the small amount of beer in my glass as I fixed Montegue with a cold, silent stare. I said, "Alright Ray, ya time has finally come mate. You've left me no other option but to knock ya arse over head. Where do ya wanna pick your self up from, the bar-room floor or the pavement outside?"
      Silence came over Giltraps' Hotel for the next 30 seconds as people dug an elbow into their drinking mates and motioned to where I was now standing, two feet away from Montague.
     Montague started to laugh now as he said.
"I don't think I'll be going down on the pavement mate."
"What you think and what's a fact are two different fucking things Ray. Anytime ya ready mate, make a move!"
"Alright ya pommy fucking louse, outside mate!"

     As we got to Giltraps' front door, Montegue said to me, "After you Cobber! If I'm not there in a couple of minutes, start without me."
     Now I knew I had him. I could smell the fear starting to ooze out of his pores.
"After you Montegue. I wouldn't want ya to miss out on the free lesson mate."
     There was now a big crowd outside on the pavement. They'd all gone out of another door to make sure they had a ringside view. As we stood on the pavement, a few feet apart, I handed mi shirt to Gundy who was acting as my un-asked for 'corner'. Montegue handed his shirt to one of his mates,  who obviously supported him.

"Let's go Ray!", I said as I loosened mi shoulders and mi fists automatically closed. I assumed the well-trained fighting stance!
     We danced around the pavement for a few seconds and then I said to Montegue, as I stared into his eyes, "Come on Ray, take ya best shot and make sure ya don't miss cause ya won't get another one!"
     After a few more seconds, he threw a big, wide clumsy right hand. It missed by about 6 inches. As it flew past my face, I sprang forwards and sent a crashing right hook, which connected with the lower part of his jaw, just under his ear. The shock from the blow sent his eyes out of focus. For good measure for all the months of abuse I'd tolerated from him, I hit him hard up the side of the rib cage with mi left fist then automatically my right fist slammed hard, just below his heart.

    I knew it was all over as his knees buckled from under him in slow motion. A couple of his mates tried to catch him but the weight of his uncoordinated body was too much for them as it hit the pavement. Then one of his mates said to me,
"Ya didn't have to hit him that hard, ya fucking pommy bastard!"
"Would you like to take his fucking place mate?"
"Well no, but...."
"Then shut ya fucking mouth and mind your own business or you'll end up on the pavement with him!"
"Come on Chummy.", said Gundy, with a big grin on his face. "It's all over now mate. I guarantee ya won't have anymore problems with old Monty from now on."

    The drunker Gundy got that evening the more he talked about the hard right hook that transported Ray from his dream world to the waking state.
     Next morning, I was up a bit later than my normal time due to the heavy partying after the Montegue moment. As I closed the door to my room, a mate of mine came walking down the hallway.
"Hey Yorky.", he said. "Are you gonna have another go at Monty this morning?"
"No, why d'ya ask?"
"Well, he's proppin' the bar up in the corner, with a couple of his mates."
"Ah shit!", I thought. "I'm not lookin' forward to this. I needed a hair of the dog and I wasn't going to walk down to Twitcheys' place. I thought to myself, "Fuck it! He has to deal with me!"
     As I walked into the barroom where Monty was standing, three or four blokes, who were drinking in a 'school' saw me and yelled out,
Monty looked at me and said, "Fuck that for a game of tin soldiers! My jaw and ribs are still fuckin' aching from last night."
     He then said to Giltrap, "Give him a middy, 'Trap. I'm shoutin'!"
     I thanked him for the beer and made mi way over to where Gundy was drinking.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


      This is the story of a 15 year old boy who leaves a life of poverty, flogging from the school teachers, beatings from his mother, a emotionally war-wounded father, incapable of giving him the love he so desperately needs. A sad life with no future, unless life as a plumber was alright, which for this bright boy, was not acceptable.
     After finding out that he could emigrate to Australia, the decision was made. Through the initial journey on board ship with 16 other boys, poor like himself, he begins to find our what 'real life' is about. Lessons leaned serve him throughout his life.
     Through his encounters with grown men, in the Outback, some pleasant some not, he begins to grow into a man.  This is a Biographical Epic ~ The first part of a trilogy.


     One evening, as I was on mi way home from riding mi bike around with a couple of pals, I ran into the next door neighbor,  I never saw him very much because he worked nights at one of the local carpet mills. As I was leaning mi bike against the wall he said,
"G'day. How are ya? My names Bruce Whipp. We've lived next door to each other for months and I've never really met ya."
"Hello. My names Richard. Where are you from? You can't be from around these parts 'cause you don't speak like everyone else does."
     Mr. Whipp had a good chuckle to himself. Ya noticed it did ya mate. After all these years of living in Yorkshire and being married to a Yorkshire girl, I still can't get rid of mi Aussie accent."
"What do you mean, 'Aussie'?"
"I come from Australia. Anyone who comes from there is called  an 'Aussie'. It's sort of a nickname."
What's it like, living in Australia?", I asked.
"She's a beaut' place mate. Gods' own country it is. In fact, me and the family are going back home in a couple of months. I had a job offer from a firm I used to work for before I came to England."

     As soon as I heard the word 'Australia', it was like magic. It went into my brain and refused to leave.
"I'm going to live in Australia!", I said to Mr. Whipp, before we parted company.
"Are ya mate? Well good on ya.", he said. "If you ever do, I'll leave ya my phone number and address. You can look me up and I'll drive ya around Sydney on a guided tour. Got to go now. I'll see ya's later."

     As soon as I got inside the house, I said to Iris and mi step-dad, who were sat in their usual chairs.
"Guess what mum!"
"Now what?", she said without looking up from her knitting.
"I'm off to live in Australia as soon as I leave school."
"Where did you get that hair-brained scheme from?", she said.
"I just talked to Mr. Whipp next door. He was telling me what a great place it was so I decided that's where I'm going."
"Don't be so bloody daft Richard. Australia is thousands of miles away and you're only 14. You can forget all about Australia. You're not going anywhere. When you leave school at 15, you're going  to start that plumbing job you put your name down for."
"I don't want to be a plumber. I want to go to Australia and work on a farm. You can either help me to do that or not but if you don't help me, as soon as I'm 18 you can't stop me! When that day comes, I'll walk out of here and never come back. So, it's up to you what you decide but my mind's made up. I'm going to Australia whether you like it or not!"
"Don't you talk to me like that lad. Don't forget that I'm your mother. You'll do what I say, not what you want."
"Not this time.", I said as I started to walk up the stairs to bed. As soon as I got to the stairs to the first landing, I yelled back downstairs.
"Hey mum.", I said.
"What now.", she yelled back.
"I'll be in Australia before you know it. That means you'll only have one more Xmas to put up with me, then you and Him can live a life of peace. I'll be long gone, out of your life. The only thing that will remain of me will be an old memory. You'll get what you want and I'll get what I want.  So there! Good night everyone."
     That night, as I lay in bed, all I could think about as I stared through the small attic skylight was Kangaroos, Aborigines and wide open spaces. The following weeks I kept up a constant nagging campaign at mi mother, just like she did to mi dad, until I got mi own way.
     One day, she finally said,
"I'll look into it to see if there's a way you can go."

     One of the forms from the Big Brother Movement stated that I must have two of each of the items they listed which turned into 2 large suitcases of clothes.
     The days were flying past really fast now and I could see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

     On board the ship, waiting for the departure of the Aurelia, I waved goodbye to mi mum and Jim Bailey.
'Oh shit! I thought as I watched mi mother start to cry really hard, 'What have you gone and done Richard? You've really done it this time, haven't you. There's no turning back now!'

     I stood against the ships railing, waving and crying until mi mother and Jim Bailey were no longer in sight.

I was 15 years old then. At that point, I knew there would be no more childhood for me. I was now on mi own. Destiny had set the compass of my life in the direction of Sydney Australia!

Friday, February 23, 2018


     Saturday morning arrived and found me sprawled out on mi bed at Giltraps Hotel, reading a Louis L'Amour cowboy paperback I'd just bought from the News Agent.  They all ended the same way, with Larry Palmer and Stretch Emerson, the two big Texans, riding off into the Sunset.

     In those days, every hotel in the Bush had two books, minimum, in the top drawer of the night stand. Louis L'Amour and the Gideon Bible. It was not surprising to find the cowboy books dog-eared and grubby and the Bible, in brand-new condition with not a mark on it.

     I loved reading and still do.
     In no time at all, the Texans rode off into the Sunset once more. Buying the paperback was my attempt at doing battle with my old friend, boredom.
     'Now, what the fuck am I going to do.', I thought, as I put the paperback in the top drawer, thinking I'd give it to Freddy or War dog, whichever one I saw first. Boredom made the decision for me. Off down the street I went, for a walk. Halfway down, I met Dick Skippy walking towards me.
"G'day Dick.", I said.
"G'day Yorky. What are you up to, no good mate?"
"No Dick, I'm bored shitless so I'm fillin' in time. Jesus Dick, you look fuckin' crook mate. Have ya been sick?"
"Sick is an understatement Yorky. I very nearly died."
"Ya kiddin' mate? What happened."
"I just got outa' hospital. I've been down in the Big Smoke, in hospital, under a Harley Street specialist."
"What for?"
"Heart Bypass mate. They cut me open with a bloody chain saw."
"What d'ya mean, they cut ya open?"
"Just what I said mate."
     Pointing to his throat, then sliding his finger down to the bottom of his rib cage, he said,
"They cut me from here to here with a circular saw, then pulled it open and clamped it so they could git in there."
"Jesus, that must have hurt like fuck, Dick!"
"Not while they were doin' it mate but it sure as hell hurt after."
"Can I see the scar mate?"
"Sure can Yorky. Take a look at this mate!"
     With that, he opened his shirt from top to bottom which revealed a wide, long scar. There were small, white scars each side of the main one where the stitches had been.
"Holy fuck mate! What caused the heart problem?", I asked as I took a drag off mi home-rolled."
"Those fucking things you're sucking on Yorky! That bloody habit will kill ya Mate."
"Ya don't smoke anymore Dick?"
"Not on your life mate. The specialist said all mi main arteries were blocked up and if I didn't stop, I'd be heading for an early grave."
"Was it hard for ya to stop Dick? You always had a Log Cabin stuck in that cigarette holder in the side of ya mouth."
"No mate, the shock of nearly dying made it real easy."
"Don't ya ever crave a rolley?"
"Sometimes I do, but the option of living or dying takes care of that mate."
"Anyway Yorky mate, I've gotta' catch the Stock and Station agent before he closes. I need to oder some sheep dip and drench."
"Ya got any work out at your place Dick?"
"I'll have a word with our Kevin. We're marking lambs next week. I could probably give ya a couple a days. Give us a call tonight and I'll let ya know."
"Good on'ya Dick."
"No worries Yorky. Don't forget to throw that stinkin' 'bacca away before ya' end up like me!"

     My next stop was Rods' Clothing Store. His store was the only one in the Lake where, somewhat decent, young blokes gear, could be bought.
"What can I do for ya mate?", said Rod as I entered his store.
"Nothin' Rod. I just came in for a look around."
"No worries mate.", said Rod as he went back to his intense study of the weekend horse-racing section of a Sydney paper. "Give us a holler, if ya need anything."

     After studying the rack of clothes, I decided to buy miself a pure Aussie-made Merino Jumper. 'This'll make me feel good', I thought, as I tried it on in front of the long mirror. Boredom and fucked up emotions were a common experience for me, in those early days of my youth. Shopping was my latest attempt at dealing with it. Waking up to the counter, I said to Rod,
"How much for the Jumper?"
"Ten bucks mate. She's first class Merino wool."
"Yeah, I read the label mate. No worries, I'll take it. I wasn't keen on handing over the ten bucks but once the money was gone and the jumper was in the bag, my smile returned.
"Haroo mate!", I said to Rod as I left the store.
     He didn't even look up from the paper when he grunted, "Yeh, good on ya' mate."
     As soon as my feet hit the pavement, outside his shop, the boredom and emotions came flooding back in. There and then, I learned a ten dollar life lesson! Spending money on things I didn't need would not get rid of boredom or wounded emotions. 'Fuck it, I'll just take it back and git me 10 bucks back.'
"Hey Rod, I changed mi mind about the jumper. I don't need it. Give us mi money back will ya?"
     This request got his attention real quick. Without looking up from his paper, he pointed to a sign on the wall that read, NO CASH RETURNS ~ STORE CREDIT ONLY.
"Ya mean I can't get mi 10 bucks back?"
"That's what the sign says sport. Ya want a store credit?"
"Nah, fuck it. I'll just hang on to it."
'Tight-arsed miserable bastard', I thought as I left his shop.

"Yorky mate!", said Freddy, as he walked towards me. "How are ya'?"
"Great mate.", I said and showed him my best, phony smile.
"Give us a rolly mate. I'm clean out."
"No worries Freddy.", as I handed him the Drum. "I can do one better than that mate. Here, Happy Birthday. Have a brand new jumper."
     Freddy took the bag and pulled out the jumper.
"Jesus mate, this is a beaut. It's brand fuckin' new! Why don't ya want it?"
"Don't ask mate. Consider it a birthday gift."
"How did ya know it was mi birthday?"
"What d'ya mean? Is it really ya birthday today?"
"Fuckin' oath mate, I'm nineteen!"
"Well good for you mate. Enjoy it."
"I gotta' go Yorky. I'm meeting a bloke over at Twitcheys' that owes me some money. Thanks for the jumper mate!"
"No worries."

     Walking slowly back to mi room at Gilltraps, I was pondering how it was possible for me to fuck up and buy a jumper I didn't need, as I already had two, and to boot, it was Freddys' birthday!

Monday, February 19, 2018


     After I'd been shearing for about 10 years, I once again found myself in Lake Cargelligo. A really good shearing mate of mine, Mark Hargraves, had offered me 8 weeks work. How could I refuse! My first port of call was, of course, Giltraps Hotel.

     Cath Giltrap, Mrs. Gibson and many others were all quite happy to see me. Most of their comments were along the lines of. "I can't believe how much you've grown since I last saw ya!"

     My first shearing pen was out at a cockys place called Rolly Sanson.
     Mark said,
"It's one day but you'll make good money. There's about 200 cross-bred lambs to shear."

     Rolly had 6 sons. One of them was called Harry. Harry was a good bloke who was a mate of mine. I had been introduced to him by Kay Booth (Burts' old missus) on my first trip to town in 1964. Harry and me never saw a great deal of each other as he lived way out in the Malley on his old mans' property. When I met him in town or at one of the local football matches we would always have a good laugh about my exploits around the Bush.

     Harry was roust-a-bout for the day. I knew we were gonna' have a good time.
"Hey Yorky, how many are ya' gonna' shear today?"
"I don't know Harry. I'll let ya know after the first run. Why? How many ya got under cover?"
"We counted about 240. We're probably looking at a couple of days eh?"
"Let's see.", I said, as I loaded up the hand-piece."

     After the first run, I'd pushed out quite a few lambs which were the best shearing cross-bred lambs I'd ever shorn, up to that point. I'd just sat down for morning smoko when Harry came back in the shed from counting them out.
"How did we go Harry?", I asked with half a cheese sandwich still rolling around mi mouth.
"I counted out 65 mate."
"Not bad for a pommy bastard.", I said, with a satisfied look on my face.
"Not bad? That's fucking great Yorky mate. Ya think ya can keep that pace up all day?"
"I don't see why not Harry, they're 'flyers'. "
"So you might finish 'em today?"
"If they all shear as well as the first run, I may just do that."
"That'll be fucking Bonza mate! I'll be able to get 'em in their paddock before nightfall."

     At 5:20 that evening, I ran out of lambs and my grand total for the day was 230.
"Jesus Yorky mate, Ya did it! I've never seen anyone shear that many in one day. D'ya think ya could ring Johnny Burt?"
"No way Harry. Johnny Burt is a fair dinkum gun-shearer. He shore 250 Merino lambs this year at Merri Merrigal Station. He may not be the cleanest shearer in the shed but for the amount he can shear, he's good enough for me."
"I'm gonna shoot into town before ya Yorky mate. I'll meet ya at Blackers. I don't wanna' pay ya by check. I really appreciate the job ya did and the fact that ya got 'em all out in the time ya did."
"No worries Harry. I'll see ya at Blackers."

     After I met Harry at Blackers that evening, he paid me cash. I bought him a couple of beers and had a good laugh with him.
"Hey Yorky mate, I can still remember the first time I met ya when ya first came out here. You were only 15 years old mate, with skin as white as a ghost and your Yorkshire accent was so fucking funny, I could hardly understand ya."
"Yeah, I know mate. I had a pretty hard time at old Burts' place. I didn't know mi head from mi arse in those days."
"Well ya made it mate. Ya survived everything the Bush could throw at ya. By the way, I told everyone I know how many ya shore today, so look out when ya go to Giltraps. All those Alchis' will be on the bite mate."
"Thanks for the warning Harry but I know the game now mate. Thanks again for the work. I think I'll head off back to Traps and have a shower. That way, if I get full tonight, I haven't got far to go and I can crash on the bed with clean gear on."
"Alright Yorky mate, look after ya self sport. I might see ya around town before ya take off again."
"Yeah, Hurroo Harry."

     Once I got back to Giltraps, I by-passed the barroom and headed straight for mi room. I chucked mi sweaty, greasy dungarees in a cardboard box I kept in the corner and then took off down the passage towards the shower room. My habit was to have a shower as soon as I got home to Giltraps 'cause if not, I'd end up getting full in my old shearing gear. Odd times I saw miself crash out on the top of mi bed covered in sheep shit. Not a pleasant sight to behold at 6 in the morning!

     It was Friday night and Giltraps was packed when I walked in the bar.  A quick scan of the room and I made mi way over to where Donny Freeman and his crew were drinking.
"Hey Yorky mate.", said Freeman. "Come and join in our school. Ya can buy us all a beer mate, seeing as you're a gun shearer now!"
"Come on Don, you and me both know I'll never be a gun shearer as long as mi arse hole points to the ground."
"I don't know about that mate. 238's not a bad tally. Especially for a pommy bastard!"
"Yeah, but they were good shearing, cross-bred lambs mate."
"Doesn't matter sport. Ya still had to drag 'em out and git the wool off 'em."

     Gundy, who was well on his way, couldn't wait for the conversation to finish so he jumped right in and said,
"Chummy, ya pommy fucking bastard. Buy us a beer mate. They tell me, on the Bush Telegraph that ya shore 238 today."
     Gundy could get quite loud once he'd had a few. He yelled out,
"Chummy shore 238 today out at Sansons. Tell these fucking yobos' who taught ya to shear mate! I did, right mate? Gundy Stewart, the gun teacher. Right Chummy?"
"Right Gundy, you taught me shear mate."
"Tell 'em again Chummy. Old Gundy taught ya to shear!"
     As much as I loved Gundy and for sure he was the first bloke to show me the blows, he could be a little bit of an embarrassment when he'd had a skin-full, but what could I say, as everything he said was Fair Dinkum."

     As the night wore on, everyone in Giltraps were well on their way and having a good old drunken time. It was my turn to buy a round for the blokes. As I stood at the bar waiting for Giltrap to fill the order, I noticed Cecil Ivers sitting on a bar stool, talking with a couple of his drinking mates. As I stared at him he said,
"What are you fucking looking at, ya bastard?"
"G'day Cecil, how are ya mate? Long time no see."
"Do I know you sport?
"Yeah, I'm the little pommy bloke that used to work with ya in the 60s'. Mi names Yorky."
"Jesus fucking christ! I'd have never believed it if I hadn't seen it with mi own eyes."
"How ya' been keeping Cecil. Are ya still building?"
"I sure am mate. Ya can't keep a good man down."
"How's ya missus doing? She still in good health?"
"Yeah, she's not doing too bad. I heard you're a bit of a gun shearer."
"I don't know about that Cecil. I make a pretty good living at it."
"Well, don't forget mate, I'm the bloke who taught ya how to really work."
"That's right Cecil. Gundy taught me the blows and you helped me develop a great working ability."
"Well that's gotta' be worth at least a beer mate. I'll have one of those middys ya got sitting there."
"No worries Cecil. I'd be happy to shout ya a couple a' beers."
"Now, what was that name I used to call ya, all those years ago?"
"Cecil, better let sleeping dogs lie mate! I'm not the same young bloke ya used to abuse when we worked together. I'm mi own boss now.", I said.
"Yeah, but that was a good name mate, if I could only just remember."
"Here's ya beer Cecil. I'm off back to the school I'm in."

"What did fat fucking Ivers want with ya Chummy?", said Gundy as I handed him his middy.
"He was just reminding me that he was responsible for my working ability."
"Maybe so Chummy, but I'm the one who taught ya the blows."
"Yeah right Gundy. No one can ever take that away from ya mate."
     After a few more beers, it was my turn again to buy a round. Ivers and a couple of his mates were still knocking 'em back when I finally got to the bar. As soon as he noticed me, he turned on his stool to face me and said,
"I remember what I used to call ya mate."
"Don't do it Cecil. I'm not the same bloke ya beat up on the way home from Hilston Hotel."
"No, that's right mate. I reckon I could still knock ya arse over head, even at my age."

     Ivers two drinking mates had been listening to our conversation. One of them said to Ivers,
"Hey Cec, come on mate. Don't make a dick-head out a' ya self. That bloke will knock you tits up!"
"Him? No fucking way could he do that."
"Don't do it Cecil. Just leave it alone and everything will be alright between us."
"Come on Cec, leave the bloke alone. He's given ya fair warning."
"Ya know what I used to call this bloke, said Cecil to his mate,"A burgoo-spittin' pommy fucking bastard!" He turned to me and said,
"That's right isn't it sport? You're a burgoo-spittin' pommy fucking bastard."
"Jesus Christ Cecil.", said his other drinking mate. "Ya just can't help ya self can ya. Here we are having a quiet evening and you've to to go and start stirring up shit from years ago. Leave the bloke alone Cec. He's been decent and polite with you. He even bought ya a beer!"
"Maybe ya right mate, but he's still a Burgoo spittin pommy bastard!"
"Hey Cecil, why don't ya listen to your mate? He's talking good sense to ya.", I said.
"I don't listen to anybody burgoo. I say and do what I wanna' do."
"Alright Cecil, I warned ya. I'm not an 18 year old kid anymore and you're disrespecting me in front of mi shearing mates. I won't stand for that Ivers."
"What are ya gonna do about it burgoo? Hit me?"
"You're on your own sport.", said his mate. "He's given ya fair warning."
"Bullshit! He won't fucking do anything. He hasn't got the guts. Right Yorky, or whatever the hell name ya shearing mates call ya. If I look ya straight in the fucking eyes and call ya a burgoo spittin pommy fucking bastard, you'll knock me off this barstool. Am I right?"
"That's right Cecil. I've been really polite with ya mate and I expect the same respect form you."
"You're a Burgoo spittin pommy fucking....!"
     Before Ivers got the last word out, I hit him right under the butt of his ear, quite hard. Ivers had no time to do or say anything more, as all 18 stone of him sent flying backwards off the stool and he crash landed on Giltraps floor. The whole barroom was now deathly quiet as Giltrap, who had been observing the situation said,
"Alright, that's enough! He gave ya fair warning Ivers. If ya wanna' have another go, take it out back."
     Ivers mates were now struggling to get all 18 stone of him back up on his barstool as I left the bar and went back over to where mi shearing mates were drinking.
"Jesus!", said Freeman, as I handed him his beer. "What the fuck was that about?"
"Don't ask Don. It's been a long time coming.", I said.
"Fucking hell Chummy.", said Gundy. "What a blow! I can't remember teaching that one in the sheds mate!"

    Not long after that, Ivers two mates helped him out of Giltraps. That was the last time I ever saw him.


Friday, February 16, 2018


    The following morning I was sat on the curb outside Twitcheys at a quarter to six waiting for the contractor. As I was sat there wondering what shed life would be like, a cars' horn beeped and Don Freeman pulled into the curb.
"G'day Don." I said, as I jumped up.
"G'day Chummy. Hop in mate, we've gotta pick up the other blokes."
As I got in the front of the Falcon Sedan, he said, "I hope old Gundy's sober this morning. He was pissed as a chook yesterday. It took him a couple of hours to sober up. He only shore 15 sheep the first run."
"Isn't 15 sheep a lot to shear in one run?, I asked.
"That's nothing for a shearer of Gundys' capabilities Chummy. When Gundy's sober and he feels like working, I've seen him shear a couple of hundred a day and not break out in a sweat. 'Course, he's very rarely sober."

      We drove around Shamens Corner where the blackfellas' hung out. There was a couple of 'em sitting on the bench swigging on a half-gallon flagon of plonk.
"I don't know how those blokes do it.", said Don. "I've seen 'em sat there in the  hot sun all day getting full on plonk."
"Where do they git the money from?", I asked.
"They get a government check every week and most of 'em spend the whole lot on cheap plonk."

     We pulled into the curb again and a young bloke about my age hopped in the front beside me.
"G'day Freeman, how ya going mate?",  he said.
"G'day Boney, how ya going mate? D'ya know Chummy?", said Don.
"I've heard of ya mate. Mi brother Kenny told me about ya."
"Good to meet ya Boney.", I said as we shook hands.
"How's Kenny doing?, said don.
     Boney, who was a small, thin bloke with jet black hair and a cheeky smile said, with a laugh,
"He's fast asleep in the front seat of his car. He got full as a boot again last night. He drove home from Twitcheys  but was too drunk to make it from the car to our front door."
"Jesus", said Donny, "What does his new missus think about that?"
"She ain't too pleased about it.", said Boney between laughs and giggles. "They've been married for two months now and he's only slept with her about half a dozen times. The rest of the time he's been drunk in his car."
"How long till she has the kid?", asked Don.
"About a month, I think. I asked Kenny the same question the other day and he said 'what kid?"
Boney had a real good laugh over this little joke.

"This is gonna be Chummys first day in the shed Boney so teach him the ropes, alright mate?"
"Ya haven't worked in the sheds before Chummy?"
" Only for half a day out at old Burt Booths' place."
"They tell me old Burt's a bit of a hard man to work with.", said Don.
"That's an understatement.", I said.
     Everyone had a real good laugh at that.

     Shearers and roustabouts are always trying to take the piss out of each other, probably cause it makes the day go by easier and relieves the tension from the hard work.

     The car pulled up in front of a cream-colored weather-board house and Donny Freeman honked the horn. After a few minutes a bloke appeared at the door and called out, "Be right with you."
"Jesus", said Don. "Old Gundy doesn't look too good to me this morning. I heard he was as full as a boot up at Giltraps' bar last night."
"He doesn't mind a drop now and then.", said Boney, with a giggle.
"Ya not wrong there.", said Don. "It's a bit hard to say anything about it though cause he's such a good shearer. Even when he's crook from the grog he's cleaner and faster than a lot a' blokes."
     The front door of Gundys' house re-opened and Gundy walked out. He looked a bit sick and was a little unsteady on his feet as he walked over the dead and patchy grass of his front lawn. Just before he got to the car, his old lady came running after him with a packet of fags in her hand. He took the fags from her and never said a word. As Gundy neared the back door of Don Freemans car, he tripped over a crack in the cement and nearly crashed into the glass.
"Open the back door for him Chummy before he hurts himself.", said Don.
     Leaning mi arm over the back seat, I pulled up on the handle and pushed on the door. The door almost knocked Gundy over and he took a couple of steps backwards. Very carefully he maneuvered round the open door and slowly got in the back of the Sedan.
"Ya tryin' to knock me arse over head?", said Gundy as he made himself comfortable.
"No", I said. "It was my fault for shoving the door so hard."
"What's your name?", he said with a drunken grin on his face.
"Yorky.", I said.
"What kinda' fucking name is that?", he said with slurry speech.
"It's a knickname 'cause I come from Yorkshire."
"Fucking hell.", said Gundy "A pommy fucking bastard! What are ya doing in the sheds?"
"It's Chummys first day.", said Don. "We're gonna teach him to Roust-a-bout."
"Chummy eh?", said Gundy. "That's not a bad fucking name. I think I'll call ya Chummy from now on."

"D'ya have a hard night at Giltraps Gundy?", asked Boney.
"I sure fucking did mate. I never got home till 1 O'clock this morning and the missus was as cranky as hell with me. She made me sleep on the couch all night. She was still cranky this morning. Oh shit, mi head's not too good either. Hey Freeman."
"What d'ya want Gundy?", said Don.
"Can ya go a bit easier on those fucking corners mate, mi brain's slopping around in last nights grog."
"How many are ya gonna' shear today if I slow down?", said Don, in a joking way.
"How many did I shear yesterday?
"102.", said Don.
"Alright, "I'll shear 103 today. How's that?"
"Could ya do 150 please.", said Don taking the piss out of Gundy.
"You fucking contractors are never satisfied.", said Gundy as he pulled a fag out of his packet.
"Give us a light Boney.", He said.
"I haven't got one Gundy.", said Boney.
"Here ya go Gundy.", I said as I flicked the lighter.
"Good on ya Chummy, ya pommy bastard! Me and you are gonna git on real well mate."

      Gundy was a very funny character. He was about 5 foot 10 with dry, wavy hair. He had a bald spot in the middle of his head and the hair was starting to thin at the front. His eyes were blue and his broken nose shot off to the side at a very acute angle. He was dressed in the usual shearers garb which was a cardigan, blue singlet with a reinforced patch on the front-left side, double-legged heavy-duty blue denim shearers dungarees which helped slightly to keep the thistles out, wooly socks and shearers boots. The trousers were help up with an elastic belt made out of good-quality surgical elastic.

"Where's that fucking Athel Cook this morning Freeman?", said Gundy.
"We're gonna pick him up now. Suppose he was with ya at Giltraps last night was he?", said Don.
"Yeah.", said Gundy. "The bastard tried to miss out on buying a round before he left. He can be as tight as a fishes asshole."

     The car ground to a halt at the far end of town and another shearer was sat on the curb smoking a home-made.
     He was a thick-set bloke with a whiskery face. Not a very good-looking bloke at all. His thick wavy hair was plastered down on his large head and he had a sweat towel around his neck like a scarf.
"G'day ya fucking bastards.", Athel said as he got in the back besides Gundy.
"G'day.", said Don. "This is Chummy, Athel. He's roust-a-bouting for us today."
"G'day Athel.", I said as I leaned over to shake his hand.
"A fucking pommy bastard eh?" I've never seen a good one yet."
"This one is a fucking beaut, so go easy on him today Athel cause it's his first day.", said Don.

     Don let the clutch out and the sedan sped off out of town onto the dirt road heading for the Cockeys' shearing shed.


     As well as learning to shear, I had a slight handicap to work with. The wool-classer was a mongrel bred bastard who tried to make it as hard for me as possible by saying to Freeman that my learning to shear was interfering with my board-boys' job.
     The only reason I could see why he was acting like this was because he fancied himself as a shearer. He could shear a sheep in about 10 minutes and by now, as long as it was a good combing sheep, I was down to 8 minutes.
     Freeman was really supportive. He offered to do my job while I was learning.

    Friday night we would all drive back to Lake Cargelligo for the weekend. The first and only stop was at Giltraps Hotel. I was now, very slowly, starting to be able to hold a fair amount of grog. (It goes with the territory.) The whole team, except for the classer, would party on at Giltraps. After the bar closed down we would all move into the Sow Pen where we'd play the juke box and generally have a good time.

     Johnny Kelly, who was one of the shearers, was also an Aborigine. He lived at the mission about 10 miles out of town. Johnny was a pretty decent bloke when he was sober but like most Aborigines that drink, he would get a bit argumentative when he was full.  Most Abos' around the Lake did not like to work very much which meant they were always short of money for grog. Every Friday night, all of Johnnys' relations would be trying to cadge his hard-earned money from him for a flagon of cheap plonk. I used to sit and watch Johnny quite a bit. It must have been very difficult for him cause he had one foot in the white fellas' world and the other in the black fellas' world.  By the end of the evening Johnny would have give away probably a third of his weeks earnings. This money would only be returned months' later when he was out of work. Saturday mornings I used to see Johnny in town in his fairly new Ute. He and his wife and children were always clean and very well-dressed. Although, in my eyes, he was a really good bloke, most whitefellas' still saw him as a 'Bung'!

     Since I had been working in the sheds I decided to live at Giltraps hotel. Not because I didn't like Twitcheys, but Giltraps' was a bit cheaper and a lot of shearers used to use it as their watering hole.
Giltraps wife was a very small lady. She was probably about 5'2" and weighed 115 pounds. She had blondish-gray hair, a very pleasant face and a good, kind nature. Besides running the domestic side of the hotel she also worked in the bar whenever it was necessary. If that wasn't enough to keep her occupied, she had a swag of kids of various ages.
     Cath Giltrap was always polite and cordial with me. Whenever possible, she would not put anyone else in the room with me. She understood and respected the fact that I was a loner, even though I spent a good deal of my time in the bar. 

     Sometimes, when I was short of money, I would say to her,
"I've had a slack week these past few days Cath. D'ya mind if I pay you for the room next week?" "That's alright Yorky.", she'd say. "I trust ya' but don't let it get too far behind."
     As soon as the money came in, Cath Giltrap was the first on the list. One week, the hotel was unusually full. Cath said to me, "I've gotta put someone in the spare bed in ya' room Yorky. We're all full up this week."
"No worries Cath. I know you always fill up the other rooms first.", I said.

     The new bloke, who lived with me for the week, was a half-Abo from Uabalong, His name was Kennedy. He was a pretty quiet, clean, polite bloke until he got on the grog. At those times, he was hopeless!

     On Saturday afternoon, I came back to Giltraps. I had been doing a bit of shopping that morning down the Main street. The window in my room looked out onto the Main street of the Lake and as I passed it, I got a funny sort of feeling. Instead of going straight to the bar for a game of pool, something pulled me to the left, down the corridor to room number 9. When I pushed open the door, the room was full of smoke and as I looked around the back of the door where the spare bed was, Kennedy was fast asleep and snoring. Six inch  flames where dancing around the edge of the mattress and a burned out fag was stuck to his fingers.

"Wake up ya fucking bastard!", I roared as I shook the shit out of him. He was still as drunk as a monkey. I ran to the shower room which was at the far end of the corridor and filled up a large bucket of water. When I got back to the room, he was trying to get out of bed, still in a drunken state. I heaved the large bucket of water all over him and the bed. Kennedy coughed and spluttered as he became conscious. Once he realized he was not dreaming, he jumped out of the bed. It took a couple more buckets of water to put out the fire. When Cath Giltrap found out her bed had been charred she was not too pleased.
     Once all of Giltraps locals found out what had happened, the jokes were on me.
"G'day Yorky", they'd say, "I heard ya tried to barbecue a bung this afternoon."
"Very funny.", I said as they cracked up in laughter.