Wednesday, November 22, 2017


     At around Noon, on the 23rd of April, the Big Brother Movement sent a old, single-decker coach to pick up all of us boys, with the exception of Liverpool Bob who didn't want to be sent out to the Bush to work. It was decided that he would work in Sydney, as a mechanic. The Big Brother Movement could keep a good eye on him, until he reached the age of 18. After 18 the BBM would no longer assume responsibility for any of us boys. I never saw any of the BBM directors so I felt like we were on our own, after they found us our first job in the Bush.
     All of our suitcases were loaded on the coach and the driver headed out for the suburbs to a small place called Cabbramatta. On the outskirts of Cabbramatta was a Dairy Farm which the BBM owned. This was to be our new home until we were able to our first Bush Job. The Training Farm was a very beautiful place which was surrounded by lush, green fields. The old coach drove through a big double gate and up a dirt track road to the large Nissan hut where our quarters were. A couple of big, Australian men were waiting to help us out with our cases, as the coach came to a halt.
      Once everyones' gear was in the large, barrack-type hut, I laid on a wire-framed bed and took a bit of a breather. I hadn't been laid down very long before a big, booming voice rang out.
"Alright you pommy bastards, get off those cots and let's see what type of fucking rabble they've sent me this time!  Line up at the bottom of ya beds. My name is Bill Defoe.", he said as he strode down the hut. He stopped in front of one of the boys and said,
"Jesus fucking Christ! You sure are an ugly little bastard. What's your fucking handle?"
"Mi names Maurice."
"Is your gather an ugly little bastard like you?"
"Mi father's deadd.
"Just as fucking well!", said Defoe. "He'd have a fucking heart attack lookin' at you Sunshine!"
      Walking down the line, he stopped at another boy.
"What's your fucking handle?
"Can ya work Dave?"
"I've been working for 2 years.", said Dave.
"I'll bet ya wouldn't work in an iron lung, ya ugly pufta'. Who curls ya fucking hair now ya sister's not around?"
"No one, it's natural."
     When Defoe got level with where I was standing, he took one look at me and said,
"Gawd love a fucking duck! You should be still at home on your mothers' tits. Who the fucking hell sent a little fucking worm like you here?"
"The BBM.", I said.
"Do you know how to wank yourself off yet lad?"
"Yes.", I said as mi face went bright red and all the boys started to laugh.
"Does spunk fly out of the end of your dick or are ya still pumping air?"
     I declined to answer that question and he said,
"Ok you pommy bastards, follow me and I'll show you around the place."
     We all followed Defoe out of the Nisson Hut and across the field to where the dairy parlor was. He showed us how everything worked. As he went along the attached jobs to everyone. I was the only boy who never got a job. On the way back to the Nisson hut, he said to me,
"Come here ya scrawny-assed little fucker. D'ya know what that building is?"
"No", I said.
"Well, that's the cook house. Ya can help Mrs. Blackwell to serve the meals and do the dishes after everyone has eaten and make fucking sure you do Sunshine, alright?"
"You can all take some rest now and make sure you're ready for work in the morning. Breakfast will be at 6 O'clock sharp! If you're not out a' fucking bed, you'll be in deep shit."
     Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Defoe strode off across the paddock to the Administration building.
"Let's go and get some rest before that ugly bastard changes his mind!", said Dave.
     We lay on our beds and tried to get a bit of rest because for sure Bill Defoe was going to make it quite hard for all of us.
     Most of the boys were asleep. I found it very difficult to rest so I decided to go for a walk over to the Milking Parlor. When I walked out into the backyard, it looked like it had never been cleaned out for months. There was cow shit 6 inches deep all over it. Just then a voice said to me, 'This yard looks very much like Spencers' yard but Spencer would never have a dirty yard like this one. Why don't you grab a shovel and clean it all out?'
     'What a good idea.', I thought. 'It sounds as though I'm going to have a hard life over here so I'd might as well get started right now.'
     I worked real hard, non-stop, till the whole yard had been shoveled clean. It took me 4 hours to do it. As soon as all the shit had been stacked on the old shit-pile, I hosed the yard down with water. By the time I'd finished there were blisters on mi hands and fingers. When I looked around the yard, it was clean as a whistle. I felt a great sense of accomplishment so I went back over to the Nisson Hut and took a well-deserved lay down.
'Now I can rest.', I thought. 'Because I've earned one!'

     I  had only been resting about an hour when I heard Defoes' loud, Australian voice booming and echoing through the Army style barracks.
"Get out of those fart sacks you pommy fucking bastards! It's time to eat, that is, if you mummys' little darlins' aren't too fucking tired?"
    As he walked down the line of beds he said, "Who the fucking hell took it upon themselves to clean up the outer dairy yard without asking first? Which one of you pack 'a pommy bastards did it?"
"I did.", I said in a somewhat nervous voice.
"What d'ya mean, 'I DID',  you little, fucking, pipsqueak? Who helped ya?"
"No one. I saw it hadn't been done and it needed doing. Because I saw it, I took it on misen to clean it. I'm the one to blame."
     Defoe strode down the shed and stood in front of me.
"Show me ya hands?"
     When I opened mi hands, there were about 8 blisters on them.
"I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it with mi own eyes. Perhaps I misjudged you, ya scrawny-looking pommy bastard. That's what I like to see!", he roared, as he stood in front of me, looking down the line. Then he turned and said to me.
"Good lad, you're going to make it in the Bush. Now, go outside and piss on your hands. That will heal your blisters and toughen  'em up."
"Where's that ugly little bastard, Maurice and that curly-headed pufta, Dave?", Defoe yelled.
"Ah, there you are. You two can take the little bastards job in the kitchen and when ya can work as good as him, I'll git ya a job in the Bush. Now fuckin' move, you limey bastards, ya dinners getting cold!"

     That evening, I had a hearty Australian meal. Mashed potatoes, peas, lamb chops and gravy. After the meal, we all sat around a bit. Some of us talked, some wrote letters home to their families. At 9 O'clock, the lights in the Nissan Hut were turned out and we all tried to get a good nights sleep.
     At 5 the next morning, I could no longer rest. I got up and dressed mi self in mi work clothes, ready for mi first days work. Just for a joke, I grabbed mi old trumpet case from under the bed, popped the locks, put the mouthpiece in , then with a great lung-full of air, I blew the mornings Reveille.
"Oh shit! Put that fucking trumpet away Titch! It's only 10 after 5!", said one of the boys.
     A few seconds later, 3 pillows came flying across the room in my general direction. Then a large work-boot with a rubber heel bounced at mi feet.
"Alright boys, just a little joke. Don't let Defoe catch you in bed 'cause he's likely to do anything."
     At 6 we were all back in the kitchen tucking into a large plate of lamb chops, eggs, bacon and toast with a tin mug of piping hot tea. Defoe came into the kitchen and got himself a large plate of breakfast and them disappeared back outside again. After breakfast, we all went back to our beds for an extra few minutes lay-down while our big breakfast digested. It wasn't too long before Defoes' rough looking head appeared in the doorway.
"Alright ya pommy fucking bastards, on your fucking feet! Time to go to work! Who blew that fucking trumpet this morning?"
"I did.", I said once again.
"Get it out and play me a tune, Squirt."
     I pulled out the trumpet and played Defoe of couple of Trad songs. Then just for fun, i played the theme song to the Lone Ranger. Defoe seemed to love the trumpet and when I putting it away, he came over and said, "Why d'ya want to work on a farm in the Bush, Squirt?"
"Cause I can't get it out a mi head. Ever since I knew it was possible for me to come out here to Australia, that's all I ever wanted to do."
"I'll get ya a job in the Army Cadets band and after that, you'll get bumped up to the regular Army band. You'll make real good money and you won't have to go through any shit in the Army band. You could make yourself a real beaut career out 'a music Squirt."
I can tell you right now Mr. Defoe, I don't want to join any Army band. I just want to get out to the Bush and work on a farm."
"Just think about it.", he said as he turned and walked out of the hut.
     That day we all busied ourselves milking cows, driving tractors, cleaning the place up and whatever jobs one generally does around a farm.
In the afternoon Defoe said to us boys, "Can any of you lot ride a horse?" A couple of the boys raised their hands.
Defoe said to them,"Go and catch old Patches over there and saddle him up. You can all take turns riding him, it'll give ya a bit of experience in case ya need it some time."
     Patches was a strong-looking black and white Gelding. one of the boys threw a saddle across him and was trying to do up the cinch.
"Not like that, ya pommy bastard! Go back in the barn and get me a saddle blanket."
     As soon as the boy returned, Defoe placed the saddle blanket over old Patches back. Then he threw the Aussie Stock Saddle on top of the blanket as he said,
"Don't forget to pull the far-side stirrup iron over the saddle cause if ya don't, when ya throw the saddle over him, the stirrup iron will hit him under the guts and that'll spook him and make him kick. This old horse has seen more Pommy bastards than any other horse alive in Australia today. He's not particularly fond of 'em, so watch him cause he's not afraid of kickin' and he doesn't mind biting a piece of Pommy arse now and again."
     Once the saddle was in place, Defoe pulled the cinch up tight.
"Once you've got the cinch up tight, walk him around a bit cause he's a cunning bastard. He'll puff his belly out to make ya believe the cinch is tight and when ya go to mount him, he'll let the air out and then you and the saddle will go arse over head in the dirt, OK? Now, after you've walked him around a bit, if he still keeps his belly puffed out, ya give him him a real good swift kick in the guts, like this." 'BOOT!
     Defoe kicked Patches right in the guts. In turn, Patches kicked up both of his back legs high in the air. Defoe pulled hard on the cinch which tightened up the strap a couple of notches.
"Now you're ready to mount. Watch carefully or you'll get bit on the arse. You always mount from this side and make sure ya hold the far-side rein tight so he can't bite ya. Ya put ya left foot in the stirrup and ya swing ya leg up and over in one easy movement. Like this!"
     Defoe was now looming above us as he sat astride Patches.
"Ya give him a good, firm dig with the heel of ya boot, then away ya go mate!"
     After he'd walked Patches around the yard for a while, he dismounted and said to me,
"Alright Squirt, hop on 'im and have a go."
     I'd only ever ridden a donkey on Blackpool Beach as a kid for sixpence a ride. I took a deep breath and with great determination strode up to Patches, who put his head down as soon as he saw me approach him.
"Grab those reins tight Squirt!", Defoe said to me. "Pull on the far side one until he lifts his head up again."
     As I pulled on the rein, Patches swung his massive head around and tried to bite my bony, little arse.
"Look out squirt!, said Defoe. The mean old bastard will have a piece of ya arse if ya not careful mate."
     This little show made all the boys laugh. Patches knew he was the center of everyones attention. He swung his head around for another go at mi arse.
"That stirrup iron is too long for ya squirt so adjust the strap like this mate. It should only be the length of ya arm, from your fingertips to your underarm. That's good enough mate. I'll do the other side for ya."
     When the stirrup iron was the correct length, Defoe said,
"Git up on him and watch out for the cunning old bastard. He's likely to do anything. You've got to be thinking one step ahead of the old bastard cause if not, he'll take over and run the fucking show on ya!"
     I mounted  Patches just like I'd seen on the cowboy shows. I gave  him a couple of good kicks with the heel of mi boots and Patches started to walk around.
"Good on ya squirt.", said Defoe. "That's the idea. He's real hard in the mouth so you've got to ride him and show him who's boss, cause if not, he'll take over and run the fucking show on ya! Oy! Open that gate ya curly-headed pufta so the squirt can go for a ride in the cow paddock."
     Dave opened the gate so Patches and me rode through into the paddock. 'This is a piece of cake', I thought as I watched Cowboy Dick, riding along with one arm down at his side. 'What a great life it is riding the Bush Range in Australia. Maybe I'll get misen a job droving cattle around the Bush now that I can ride a horse.'
     When we reached the bottom of the long paddock, I was still fantasizing misen as a cowboy. I almost pulled out one of mi imaginary six-guns that were slung low at mi hips. Just then Patches turned around totally unexpected and took of back up the back up the paddock at full speed. All I could do was to  hang on as mi new bush hat flew off mi head into nowhere. Faster and faster Patches galloped up the paddock. I was shit-scared but at the same time, the excitement of the gallop was amazing.
'Oh no! Now what do I do? 40 yards ahead of me was the barb-wire fence where all the boys stood cheering and ya-hooing.
"Ride the old bastard!", yelled Defoe.
"Ya-hoo!, screamed the boys.
     The fence now loomed dangerously close and my fantasies were long gone. All of a sudden Patches applied the horses brakes and I saw misen flying through the air, headlong over the fence. The next thing I remember was Defoe, pulling me up onto mi feet. The back of mi head had a throbbing, dull ache in it and mi arse felt like someone had just kicked it with a size 10 boot.
"Jesus bloody Christ mate! What the fuck are ya playing at? You're supposed to stop when the horse stops! You'll bloody well hurt ya self getting off a horse that way! Now git back up on the old bastard and try it again."
"I don't think I'm cut out for riding horses, Mr. Defoe.", I said.
"Fucking bullshit lad. You'll make a fucking good jockey if ya stop eating. Now git back on him cause if ya don't, you'll end up scared of horses and if ya scared of horses, ya rooted for Bush life."
    Someone caught Patches and handed me the reins. Defoe gave me a leg up.
"Now watch the old bastard. he thinks he's got it all over ya now."
    Defoe was absolutely right cause as soon as we went through the gate into the paddock, Patches refused to go anywhere.
"Give the rotten old bastard a decent kick in the guts.", yelled Defoe.
     The heel of mi boots made contact with Patches sides. He didn't take a liking to this command so he decided to buck. Up on his hind legs he stood. He went down again and at the same time he kicked his back legs high in the air.
"Ya-hoo!", yelled some of the boys.
"Ride him cowboy!", yelled another boy.
"Show the bastard what you're made of Pommy!", yelled Defoe.
     I gave Patches another good command. Up and down he went, kicking and bucking for all his worth. Mi arse and knees were now feeling pain as Patches continued to try to hurl me to the ground again.
"Make the bastard go down the paddock!", said Defoe.
     By sheer will power, I got Patches to walk forwards and down the paddock again, only this time there were no cowboy fantasies playing around in mi head, only a dull, throbbing ache.
     When we got to the bottom of the paddock, I was one step ahead of Patches. I now knew what Defoe was trying to teach me. Instead of letting Patches run the show, I held the rein in tight so he could not have his head. After a few seconds, I said to Patches, in mi broad Yorkshire accent,
"Ok Patches, you fuckin old bastard! This time I'm runnin' the fucking show! Now move, you Aussie bastard! Yahhhh!!!"
     Patches needed no command from my boot heel but I gave him one anyway just to let him know who was the boss. Off we went at full gallop. I gave him another good heel and for good measure I gave him a hefty slap on his arse with mi right hand. Yah! I yelled at the top of mi voice as Patches thundered back up the long paddock.
     We passed mi new Bush hat and for a split second I thought I might lean down and snatch it from the ground like a Russian Cossack but dismissed the thought at once. "Yah!!!!, up the paddock we galloped. The barb-wire fence was now getting closer. As we got about 10 feet away from it, Patches applied the brakes but this time, I leaned back int he saddle and pulled on the left-hand rein with me feet stuck out at the front.
     Patches didn't like this at all. He gave a few good bucks to show his disapproval  but Dafoe yelled,
"You've got it all over him now Squirt. Ride him back here so one of these other puftas can show off his horsemanship!"
     As I dismounted, Patches swung his head around to bite mi arse and gave me a look of disapproval. Defoe said, "Good on ya mate. We'll make a fuckin' good Bushman out of you yet Squirt. Where ya from in England Mate?"
"I'm from Yorkshire, Mr. Defoe."
"Well, in that case mate, I'll just call ya 'Yorky' from now on and you can call me Bill. We can do away with that Mr. Defoe bullshit, cause you've earned it lad. Now ya can lean on the fence and watch Patches give that ugly, little bastard Maurice a good fucking workout. Come on Yorky! Come here Maurice, you little pufta. Up ya fucking go mate. Show us what ya made of!"
     I really felt a lot of love in mi heart for Bill Defoe now. It felt very strange at first to call him 'Bill', but before long, I started to feel what it was like to be called a man. Bill Defoe taught me to face fear and not to shrink away from it.  The lessons I learned from this hard man served me well throughout mi Bush life. There we many hard lessons yet to come, unbeknownst to me but his brand of love, I still carry in mi heart.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


     I was introduced to a gun shearer, Ian Redpath. He was a tall bloke who always wore a pork-pie, punters hat when he wasn't shearing.  He was mostly bald at the front of his head which made his appearance seem older than his years. A heavy drinking problem did nothing to correct it either.  Redpath was a quiet bloke until he had too much grog, then he could become very argumentative or he'd simply go to sleep on the bar stool with his head on the counter until the Publican decided he'd had enough rest then he'd wake him up. Upon waking, the first words out of Redpaths' mouth were, "Give us another middy mate."

     In town, Redpath was a hopeless drunk but when he got back in the sheds, after a couple of slow days he would be ringing the shed again. I became very fond of Redpath, despite his drinking habit. When he told me he was leaving the Lake to drive over to Western Australia, I asked him if I could go with him.
"No worries mate. Sling ya swag in the back of mi Ute. I'll be leaving tonight after Giltraps closes. It didn't take me very long to pack up mi case and as soon as Giltraps did close, Redpath very casually sauntered out, carrying a dozen cans under his arm for the ride to Hilston where he was based.
     We arrived in Hilston well after midnight. Instead of going to his room, which he rented at at a mates house, he made his way to the back door of the Hilston Hotel. Once inside, we stayed there for at least 3 hours until the Publican refused to serve anymore beer.
     The following day, Redpath got up at 1pm and headed towards the bar again. He kept this activity up for at least 3 days until I finally said to him,
"I'm going back to the Lake mate. I didn't come with you to watch ya drink ya self to death. I'll be leaving as soon as I find a ride back."
     This statement of mine must have given him a bit of a shock because he finished his beer, bought another dozen and said, "Alright, come on mate, let's hit the road!"
     Pretty soon we were on our way with my self behind the wheel of his brand new Ute. I knew he really liked me, otherwise he would have stayed at the bar drinking until he was broke. Also, he liked me to drive. No one lets a bloke drive his new Ute unless he enjoys his company.
     We must have been on the road for 6 hours. We'd changed seats and Redpath was now driving. Drunk or sober, he drove the Ute at around 80 miles an hour. Just as I was settling in for the long haul a big, semi passed us on the dirt road. The next thing I heard was a loud 'BANG' as a stone shattered the windscreen to pieces. Immediately, Redpath applied the brakes and at the same time he pushed out a big enough hole in the windscreen, which enabled him to see where we were heading. As soon as the vehicle ground to a halt, we pushed out the whole windscreen. There was shattered glass all over the place.
"What a bastard!", said Redpath. "This calls for another beer!"
      I cleaned up as much of the small pieces of glass as I could without a small dust pan and broom. When it looked alright to Redpath he said, "Fuck it Yorky, that'll do sport. Open ya self a beer mate and well get moving again."
     It's amazing how uncomfortable one can be in a Ute with no windscreen, especially traveling on a dirt road. Every car that drives past kicks up a huge amount of dry red dust. When we finally reached a town called Wilcania, we were covered in a thick layer of dust form head to toe. Once we found the largest garage in town, the owner said he'd have to order a windscreen because it was a new Ute and he didn't carry spares for new vehicles. He also said that it would take at least 4 days before it arrived. Redpath ordered it and then drove straight to the Hotel to contemplate what to do, over a few cold middys.
     That evening, as we made friends with a few of the local shearer, Redpath, who was known all over the Outback of NSW, managed to pick up some shearing and crutching for us. At least we'd make a few dollars while we waited in Wilcania.

     That evening, we drove out to a station called Mount Pleasant. I can tell you, it was anything but. There was only a few sheep to shear. so the rest of our time was spent crutching, daggy-arse sheep.
     Crutching consists of dragging out sheep, shearing the wool off of their rear-end in a fan-like shape. Under normal conditions, one can make a lot of money out of crutching.  Unfortunately, we were not crutching in ideal conditions.
     Let me explain. Once sheep have been let into a paddock that has plenty of green feed they tend to get the scours. In a nutshell, they shit all over the wool around their arse. Over a period of time, the blow-flys, who see sheep shit as a five star meal, land all over the sheeps' arse. In the process, the blow-flys lay their eggs on the shit. After some time, the eggs hatch out as maggots. Now, maggots, being what they are, will look for food. Once they are firmly on the skin, they will start eating the sheep alive! They bore holes deep down into the sheeps' read end. If not caught in time, they will kill the sheep. Any shearer knows a fly-blown sheep. He can smell it. The antidote for this little trauma is to shear off all the wool where the maggots have been. After he has done this, he yells out "TAR BOY!" A roustabout runs down the board to the shearer with a can of liquid, which he daubs all over where the blow-flys have been, which stops them getting re-infected. The other operation that one encounters while crutching, is when the shit on the rear end of the sheep has dried hard as a rock. The only way to get this off is to chip away with the hand-piece until it's all gone. That was how we spent our time at Mt. Pleasant.
     After we finished our few days, he luckily found another 2 weeks shearing for us. It was decided that we'd forget about driving a few thousand miles across the Nullabar Plain and remain in Wilcania for as long as the work held out.
     The following Friday evening Redpath and me drove back into town from a weeks hard work in rough old wethers. We decided to try out one of the other bars, just for a change in scenery. We already knew quite a few shearers now which made the stay a bit more enjoyable.
     At around 9:30 I decided to go for a walk down the street for some fresh air. I was not interested in getting blind drunk with Redpath that night. Once I got outside a couple of Aborigine girls smiled a big smile at me and asked me my name and where I came from. Once I said Lake Cargelligo they asked me if knew all of their relations who lived out at the mission. After 10 minutes of talking they suggested that after the bar closed down, if I bought some beer and wine we could all go for a bit of a party out at the place they were living. I agreed to meet them later.
     After I had a feed at the local Dago shop, I went back up to the bar to see how old Redpath was faring. By this time, he was firing on all 8 cylinders and was already quite argumentative when the Publican called 'Time' at 11. I told Redpath about the the 2 Abbo sheilas I'd met earlier. He seemed to like the idea cause he said,
"At least it's somewhere to go where we can hang around and drink some more grog."
     When we went around the back of the Hotel where Redpath had parked his Ute, the girls were waiting for us.
"G'day", they said as we approached. "Ya got some grog?"
"Of course I've got some fucking grog.", said Redpath. "Have ya ever known me not to have any?"
     One of the girls said, with a smile,
"How would we know? We've only just met ya mate."
"Then fucking go and ask anybody that knows me, they'll all tell ya the same thing. Ya might see old Redpath without food on many occasion but grog, you'll never see him without."
"Alright mate.", said the older one. "Keep ya fucking hat on. We only asked."
"Where the hell are ya taking us anyway?", asked Redpath.
"Few miles out of town. Got a humpy out there. We can have a party without being disturbed.", said on of 'em.
     Once we were all squashed in the front seat of the Ute, he started it up and drove out of the car park and then up the main road. For some reason, he was driving very slow tonight which was totally out of character for him. He was driving so slow in fact,  one of the girls said,
"Can't this Ute go any fucking faster?"
"Course it fucking can. It's a brand new Ute.", he said. "What d'ya wanna go faster for?
"Well mate, some one might see us with 2 white fellas."
"So fucking what?", said Redpath, who had now opened a new can.
"Don't worry me mate, but if the local cops see us with ya, you'll git into big trouble.", said one of the girls.
"Fuck the cops. I've been in jail overnight more times than I can remember so once more won't make any difference to me.", said Redpath.
     At long last, we arrived at an old rusty, broken down tin shack at the end of a dirt track on the outskirts of town. When we went inside, I got quite a shock as I looked around me. It was a one-room place with a dirt floor. The inside walls were just as  rusty as the outside. The only furniture in the room was 2 single beds, one at each side of the room. On the actual bed part there were no mattresses, only a sagging chain-link spring  affair which was supposed to hold at least a flock mattress. Instead, all that covered them were an old wool blanket. The only other furniture I could see was an old wooden chair which only had 3 legs.
     Redpath walked over to one of the beds and sat down on the edge of the frame with the booze at the side of him.
"Alright mate, give us a drink.", said one of the girls to him.
"I don't know whether or not I should waste mi good beer on you Abbo sheilas. Here, ya can open up this bottle of Plonk, if ya like.
"Is this where you live?". I asked.
"Sure is mate. What else do we need?"
"Where d'ya cook?", I asked, cause there was no electricity or running water.
"Outside mate. We make a fire when we wanna cook up something."
"Where d'ya put ya clothes?", I asked.
"On mi body. Where else would I put 'em?"
"No, ya spare clothes.", I said.
"What spare clothes is he talking about?", said the other girl.
"Fucked if I know." said the other one. "He must know something we don't."
"Are these thin cotton dresses the only clothes ya have?
"Course they are. What do I need anymore for. I can only wear one dress at a time."
"What d'ya do when ya have to wash 'em?"
"I wash it in the river and hang it over a bush till it dries. What else."
     As we sat and talked, I asked them many questions about their lives. Most of the time, they thought I was pretty weird. Eventually Redpath started to talk politics to the girl who was now sitting next to him. He asked her for an opinion on the war in Vietnam.
"What you mean, 'Vietnam?' What war? Where abouts in NSW is Vietnam? I haven't never heard of it mate."
"What about all those young white kids that are dying  over there so that you bastards can be 'free'?" said Redpath, who was now pretty drunk.
"What bullshit you fucking talking white fella?", she said. "Maybe you had too much grog. Black fellas never have war. No white fella ever die for black fellas but plenty black fellas die at the hand of white fellas. If ya so worried about this Bush town, Vietnam, why don't you go to war instead of gittin' on the grog?"
"Ya stupid, bloody Giin.", said Redpath, as he took another big swig out of his can. "Vietnam ain't in the Bush. It's another bloody country all together. Didn't ya learn anything at school?"
     The girl who was now sat next to me said to him,
"She never went to no white fellas school mate. She learn from tribal family everything about ancestors. Same as me mate. White fellas learning no good to black fellas. Only good thing white fellas have is plonk and Marlboroughs.
"Yeah that 's the bloody problem with you black bastards.", said Redpath. "Ya never work or look after the land."
     The girl who was sitting next to him took another swig out of the wine bottle and said,
"What d'ya mean, black fellas not work or look after the land. Just look at you white fellas. You come to our land and in a few years it's almost dead! Ya put those chemical things on the land and then ya put up fences and tell us it's yours and if we walk on it, we're trespassing. Then ya go and call the white fella sergeant on us."
"Ya can have ya land back for all I care.", said Redpath, who was by now really drunk.
     The Abbo girl, who was now herself a bit drunk said to him,
"We don't want it back now. You white fellas fucked it up  so ya can have it. It's no good to us black fellas anymore."
     As they were arguing back and forth, the girl who was sat with me said,
"Come on mate, I wanna show ya something. Come outside."
     When we got outside, she closed the door and then grabbed hold of my hand and took off at a fast pace into the Bush. After about 10 minutes of walking we came to a big clearing in the Malley. The full moon was directly up above now and filled the clearing with a warm glow.
"Pretty place eh?", she said as she looked around.
"Yeah,", I said. "It's really peaceful out here."
"I wanna give you some thing very special.", she said as she pulled off her dress. "You are a very special white fella. You are a very good man. Come on.", she said as she laid down in the thick red dust. "Take off ya clothes and put it in here. I've got a gift for you."
     We laid down in the Bush for at least 3 hours. When we were finished, I looked more like a black fella than a white one cause I was covered all over in layers of red earth.
"Let's go back now.", she said. "The Sun will be comin' up soon. It's not good for you if white fellas see you with a black Gin."
     When we got back to the tin humpy, Redpath was fast asleep in the front of his Ute. The other Abbo girl was asleep on one of the rickety beds.
"You'd better wake him up and go now before some of my family show up."

     It took me ages to wake up Redpath. When he eventually came too, he said,
"Gives us a middy mate!"

     Come Sunday evening Redpath and me drove back out into the Bush for another weeks hard work shearing Wethers. The cooks name was Paddy Slaven. He was an old Irish immigrant with a bald head, fat round face and a chronic drinking problem.

     People who live in the Bush that have bad drinking problems are not called 'alcoholics' as long as they can get up and go to work everyday but once the grog has really gotten hold of 'em and they can no longer work, then and only then are they branded as close to being an 'alchy'.

     Old Paddy was as close to being an 'alchy' as possible, without actually being labeled one. He drank from 5 in the morning until 11 at night, when he eventually ran out of grog. If he couldn't borrow a half-gallon of plonk, he would start on the Vanilla Essence. Many a contractor thought that Paddy would be baking a lot of cakes by the amount of Vanilla Essence he ordered for the stores but I can't remember ever eating one of Paddys' cakes.

     When we finished that shed, we drove back into Wilcania for the weekend. On Saturday morning old Paddy was propped up at the bar drinking with one of his mates he'd met in town. By the time the afternoon arrived, he was broke down to the bones of his arse. When I walked into the bar, he made a bee line for me. He gave me a sob story about having no money left for food. I was still pretty naive in those days. It only took old Paddy a few minutes to relieve me of a 10 dollar note, after promising to go to the Dagos' shop and buy himself a good feed. When he walked away from me with the 10 bucks, I decided to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't forget the purpose of the loan.
     As I watched him closely, he slid the 10 dollar bill over the counter for the Publican to change. When he got it back in two fives he gave his drinkin' mate $5 and ordered another round of booze out of his 5. Once I saw that, I was really pissed! I walked over to where he was sittin' and said,
"Hey Paddy, ya told me ya wanted to buy ya self some food cause ya hadn't eaten for 24 hours!"
"Yeah, Yeah Yorky. Ya know how it is mate."
"No I fucking don't Paddy. All I know is that you're a fucking liar! If I had known you were gonna blow it on booze, I'd have never given it to ya!"
"You'll git ya fucking money back mate. Why are ya so angry?"
"Cause you're a real fucking con-man Paddy and on top of that you're a chronic fucking alcoholic!"
"Don't ya fucking dare speak to me like that ya pommy bastard!"
"Why Paddy, what ya gonna do about it. You'll never be sober enough to remember what I called ya."
"I'll knock ya arse over head in a minute."
"You and who Paddy, ya drunken alchy mate? I could beat the shit out of both of ya with one fucking arm. Anyway, I'll tell ya one thing for sure, ya fucking lush. If I ever saw ya starving in the gutter, I wouldn't piss on ya if ya were on fire. You're better off dead! As far as the 10 bucks go, ya can keep it Sport. From now on I'll warn everybody I know about ya, ya fucking con-man!"
     With that, I left him to his misery and went to the cafe miself for a good breakfast. I didn't very often get angry with people but that morning, if old Paddy had have pushed the issue too far I would have put him out of his fuckin' misery.

     I spent most of the afternoon playing pool and having a few beers with some of the shearers I'd met. As I was scanning the local paper, I read a small article about 3 blokes who'd killed themselves in a car crash on the outskirts of town.  The article said that they were all blind drunk and had hit a Semi-trailer head on. The articles' headline read, TWO MEN AND A SHEARER KILLED! That headline was the usual local attitude toward shearers or anyone who worked in the sheds.

     Later on that evening, I saw the Aborigine girl I'd met the week before.  I took off into the Bush with her again before the long night was over. The following morning, as I was having a beer with Redpath, who was in a pretty bad state, the local Wilcania Sergeant appeared at the front door of the pub. I know, because I could see him in the large mirror behind the bar.
"Oye! You ya bastard. Come out here."
     Every one in the bar turned around, except me.
"Oye!", he said again. "If I have to come in there and git ya, you'll be in deep shit mate!"
     Slowly, I turned around on my stool and faced the front door.
"Yeh, you ya bastard."
"Come out here, I wanna a fucking word with you!"
"G'day sport.", he said in a nasty tone of voice.
"G'day, Sergeant what can I do for ya?", I said.
"Ya can't do a thing for me cobber but I've got a message for you!"
     I had no idea whatsoever what the big, ugly Sergeant was talking about so I just kept quiet and waited.
"I understand from my source that ya fucking one of our local Gins."
     His nasty tone and bluntness took me by surprise, but only for a second. I said to him, "Your understanding from your source is wrong Sergeant."
"I don't think so cobber, so listen to me and listen real good sport. If ya still in Wilcania by 1 O'clock this afternoon, I'll fucking lock ya up!"
"Why would ya do that? I haven't broken any of ya laws?"
"We've got a law in this town called 'Consorting'. If I was you sport I'd get the fuck out-a this town and don't fucking come back!"
     With that, he walked off down the street to where he'd parked the local blue Bull-Wagon.

     When I walked back into the bar, Redpath, seedy as he was from his Saturday night binge said to me, "What did that big ugly bastard want?"
"He told me if I was still in town by 1 O'clock today, he was going to jail me for consorting."
"Fuckin' streuth!", said Redpath, who was now wide awake. "Let's grab a couple dozen bottles and git out of here before the ugly bastard comes back."
"Why, what does 'consorting' mean?"
"It means, ya not even allowed to talk to those black sheilas and if he finds out for sure that ya fucked one of 'em, he'll fuckin' lock both of us up and throw away the fuckin' key!"
     Redpath downed his middy in one large swallow. He paid the Publican for 2 dozen large bottles of Pilsner, then said to me,
"Let's git our gear from the hotel and git out a' here. I'm sick of this scungy fucking town anyway!"
     Once our swags were packed and put in the back of the Ute, we were once more on our way. We left Wilcania behind in a cloud of red dust.

     Redpath only drove a few miles before he said to me,
"I'll pull over to the side of the road and you can drive if ya like. This driving caper is interfering with a mans' drinkin'."
     When the Ute stopped, we exchanged seats. I pushed mi foot down on the accelerator and I said to Redpath,
"Where to now mate?"
"I think we'll head off South, Yorky. We'll see if we can pick up a pen in those big, fat Corradale sheep. I'm a bit sick of shearing rough Wethers. Besides, that Victorian Bitter is not too bad a drop of grog. I haven't had any since last year so we'll head down to a place called Hamilton. I'll git the road map out and once we know where we're heading, I can relax and have a few beers while you drive."

     On the way down to Hamilton, we stopped at a place called Horsham.  Redpath ran into a contractor that he'd worked for a few years previous. His name was Ron McClure. McClure was looking for one shearer. He had about six weeks worth of work so Redpath took the pen.
     As we sat in the bar, I was starting to worry a bit because I had no work and no way of traveling without Redpath. At the end of the evening Redpath said,
"We're gonna stay at McClures' place tonight and tomorrow I'm gonna drive ya down to Hamilton. McClure says you're sure to pick up a pen shearing at this time of year. They're in full swing down there."
     The following day, we took off early cause Redpath had to get back to Horsham. He dropped me off at the local shearers' pub. After I booked in, we had a couple of beers together.
      For all his problems, old Redpath had a big heart. Anyone else would have left me stuck in Horsham, but not old Redpath. After we said our goodbyes, he took off and I ordered another beer. I remember it was somewhere around 3 O'clock in the afternoon. I had another 3 hours to wait until the local shearers started to roll in.
     One thing about a shearers' pub is it doesn't take very long before one gets to know the local crowd. By 10 O'clock that evening,  I'd met who a bloke who arranged a pen for me, starting in a couple of days.

    A couple of days later as we drove onto the cockys' place, I noticed the size of the sheep. A Merino sheep is usually pretty light unless they've been on real good tucker. These sheep I was now looking at were huge, wooly Coradales', probably weighing around the 150 pound mark.
     The cocky was and old German called Shultz. Him and his son, who was about 22 ran the place. The shearers quarters was an old run-down house which had no electricity or fly screens on the windows. Because the grass around that area was long and green, mosquitos were a constant plague.
     In the morning, I got into mi shearing gear and made mi way over to the main house for a bit of breakfast before I started. Shultz was also the cook. He told me his old lady had died a few years back and he was left to raise the boy on his own.
     At 7:30 I was loaded up and ready to start shearing. the shed was a small 2-stander and just after 7:30 another shearer turned up from town. He was a decent bloke. He walked into the shed with his tucker box and a comb and cutter tin. As soon as he looked over the wall into his pen, he said to me,
"Jesus Christ mate, these fucking sheep look like baby elephants! I'll be flatstrap shearing a fucking 100 a day in these bastards!"
     It took me all my my strength to drag the big, wooly Coradale Ewes out of the holding pen, not to mention shearing them. I'd only been shearing for about a year but not consistently so my lack of experience did not enhance my ability to shear a good tally.
     Normally, if I worked mi guts out all day I could hear anywhere between 80 to 100 Merinos. After 2 hard hours of shearing old Shultzs' Coradales, I had only managed to poke out 15! The wool was really long and hard-cutting which meant I had to change the combs and cutters a lot. Because the sheep were so fat they did not like being sat up or rolled on their backs. To show their disapproval, they kicked like hell. The bloke next to me cursed and swore as he sweated over the huge Coradales.  By lunch time he had shorn 45. Once old Shultz was out of earshot, he said to me,
"I'll be looking for another pen tonight when I git back to town. The bloke who told me about this place said they were not bad shearing. Wait till I see that lying bastard again!"
"How long ya been shearing?", I asked him.
"15 years mate. How about you?"
"About a year, but not every week."
"You've only been shearing a year mate? Jesus sport, you're going real well in these mongrel bastards!"
"Not really. I'll be flat out getting 60 today."
"But that's pretty good for a learner Yorky. Look at me, I've only done 45. The last place I was at, I was shearing 150 a day."
"So ya think I'm going alright?"
"Listen mate, I'm one of the fastest shearers in Hamilton. Any bastard will tell ya that. As far as I'm concerned, if you can shear 60 for the day in these bastards, you're alright in my book sport."
     At first, I was feeling really down cause I expected to shear at least 80 a day but this bloke on the stand next to me helped me feel a lot better about miself. He was a real supportive bloke.
     He stayed at the shed about a week before he  pulled the pin on the old cocky. Over the next few days he stopped several times to give me some good pointers on how to make the job easier for miself.

     On Friday night, I drove into Hamilton with him and booked into the Hotel for the weekend. Over the weekend I met quite a few shearers in the barroom. Some of 'em were good blokes and some of 'em were real bastards. One bloke asked me how many a day I was shearing. When I told him 60, he started to laugh and take the piss out of  me. As he was doing this, the shearer who had been working with me all week came into the bar. He was a well-known bloke around Hamilton. People greeted him as he waked in. When he saw me at the bar, he came over and said,
"Drink up Yorky, I'll buy ya a beer mate."
"Good on ya.", I said. "Good to see ya again,"
     The shearer who had been taking the piss out of me knew the gun shearer who had just bought me a beer. He said to him,
"Where ya been shearing at mate?"
"I've been shearing with Yorky all week out at Shultzs' place."
"How many ya doing a day there?", he asked him.
"90 was mi best day,"
"Fucking hell sport, they must be real tough going for you to only shear 90 in 'em?"
"They fucking are.", he said. Old Yorky here was doing as well as me for the length of time he's been shearing."
"Jesus Christ.", said the piss taker. "I'm sorry for taking the piss out of ya mate. I didn't realize how touch a going the sheep were."
     The bloke I worked all week with said, "They been taking the piss out of ya Yorky, have they mate? Well don't let it worry ya sport cause these lazy bastards wouldn't shear 50 a day in those sheep. I'll put mi money on you any day of the fucking week mate. Drink up Yorky, I'll buy ya another beer."
     From that point on, no one else took the piss out of me. In fact, I had a pretty good time in Hamilton the 6 weekends I spent there."
     After the bar closed down at 10:30, I made mi way out to the lounge. The lounge was open at least another 3 hours for residents and their guests. I met a shearer called Brian Cullen. Brian was a pretty big, strong bloke who came from Cunnamula. We hit it off right from the beginning. That made mi stay there a lot more comfortable.
     Once that shed was finished, I left a message for Redpath at McClures' place. He returned my message saying,  'hitchhike up to Horsham. I've got a pen for ya, shearing with me.' The message made me feel really good. I packed up mi case, paid mi bill at the bar and made mi way up to the Hotel in Horsham where I found Redpath, full as a boot, propping the bar up.
     Redpath was very supportive of my shearing efforts. The following day we drove out to the Bush to start another shed.  One weekend, whilst hanging out in the bar, I met a bloke, Clay O'malley. He was a handsome looking bloke with wide shoulders and a reputation to match. He was very popular with the sheilas and the contractors for his respective talents.
     Redpath and me were sat quietly at the bar drinking a cold beer when he made his grand entrance. Modesty was not one of O'malleys' better qualities. Before long, he was bragging about the amount of sheep he could shear, the amount of sheilas he had and the amount of grog he could hold. During his bragging session, the subject somehow got on to snakes. As expected, O'malley was also an authority on poisonous snakes. To prove it, he said he'd head out into the bush and catch one. The Publican told him no to be so stupid because he had too much grog in him. True to form, O'malley would not have a bar of it. He downed his beer in one mouthful, picked up his change, then made his exit from the bar.
     Whilst he was gone, no one gave it another thought because most people were used to his ways. It wasn't until he made his grand entrance again, carrying a small sugar bag that anyone took him seriously.
"Give us another middy.", he said to the publican as he sat down on the bar stool and put the sugar bag on top of the bar.
"What's in the bag Clay?", said Redpath, who was not at all keen on snakes.
"It's a copper-head mate?"
"Oh Bullshit!", said Redpath, who was now sliding his stool a couple more feet to the right of the bag.
"I tell ya, it's a copper head mate. As soon as I've finished this beer, I'll get it out and show you.
     O'malley didn't wait to finish his beer, instead he slid his bar stool back from the counter and started to undo the string which held the top of the sugar bag securely tied. Once the string had been loosened he held it closed with his left hand.
"Now I'll show you bastards what's in the bag!", he said as he felt around the outside of it. "Ah, here we go!" he said as he held onto something from the outside.
"I've got hold of his head now. I'm gonna put mi hand inside the bag and pull him out!"
     Everyone, including myself, stepped back at least another 3 feet as he let go of the bag opening. O'malley pushed his hand, very carefully, into the bag as we all looked on. Just then he pulled his hand back out at great speed and said,
"Shit! Bastard! He fucking got me!"
"What d'ya mean, 'he got me?", said Redpath.
"I thought I had hold of his head securely but he wriggled free and bit me thumb!", he said as he closed the bag tightly.
"Hurry up!", he said in a panicked voice. "You've gotta get me to a hospital!"
     Redpath, drunk as he was, sprang into action!
"Alright, hurry up mate. My Ute's outside. I'll take ya!
     The publican told us where the closest hospital was. Before we went any further, O'malley cut his thumb and tied a piece of string around it as fast as he could. In no time at all, we were doing 90 miles an hour up the wide bitchuman highway towards the hospital. On the way, O'malley kept saying to me, "Undo the tourniquet and move it up a bit and then pull it as tight as ya can." Once this was done, he said, "Well, it looks like I'm really fucked now. I'll never make it cause once the tourniquet's up to the top of mi arm, there's no where else to tie it!"
     Redpath drove like a first-class racing car driver as he steered the Ute around the wide corners with the needle bouncing on 105, most of the time. Before long, I had made the last tie just below the shoulder muscle in O'malleys' left arm.
"That's it. We can't move it again. I'm out of time mate! I always wondered how was gonna die. Now I don't have to wonder anymore."
"You'll be alright mate.", I said. "Don't worry, there's not too far to go now!"
"How far to go, Redpath?", asked O'malley.
"Twenty miles mate but at this speed it won't take long."
"I'm fucked! Now I'm really fucked! Tell mi old lady what happened will ya and do what ya can for mi kids."
     O'malley was now starting to get groggy. His eyes started to close and his breathing became shallow and slower.
"Don't let me go to sleep." he said in a whisper. "Keep me awake."
     The only thing I could think to do was to slap his face and shake him.
"Tell me how many sheep ya shore last week mate?", I said
"I was the fastest in the shed.", he said softly.
"Just as fucking well for you that I wasn't shearing next to you, ya  gutless bastard. I'd have run rings around ya!", I said.
    This statement brought him back a bit, so I pursued it further.
"The only problem with you fucking Aussies is ya full of shit and ya got no balls. A fucking good pommy could blow ya arse off in a shed!". I said, as his head lolled from side to side.
"Wake up, ya gutless bastard!". I screamed at him as I slapped his face from side to side.
"That fucking hurts.", he said in a soft whisper.
"That's because you've got no fucking guts O'malley. You're all fucking talk and no action!, I yelled in his face.
"I could work you into the ground, ya fucking pommy bastard." he said as his head lolled forwards.
"You haven't got the fucking balls O'malley!", I screamed at him.
     I pulled his head up and I slapped his face around a bit more.
"Hospital's coming up on the left", said Redpath. "Smack him around a bit more mate. Don't let him drift off!"
     As we pulled up outside the Emergency entrance, a couple of doctors were waiting with a wheel chair. The publican had called ahead and everyone was fully prepared for him. It only took seconds before he was out of the front bench seat of the Ute and in the wheelchair heading for the front door.
     Redpath and me parked the Ute and then went into the Emergency waiting room to wait for some information. After about an hour, a doctor came out and said,
"He's gonna be alright now. We gave him a good shot of anti-venom and he's sleeping peacefully. It's a good job you kept him conscious, cause if not, he'd be dead by now."
"How long will he be kept in?" asked Redpath.
"At least 5 hours or so. We want to make sure he's alright before we let him go."
     We decided there was no more we could do. We filled up the Ute with petrol and drove back to the hotel, only this time the speedo needle never got about 60.
"You're not a bad driver.", I jokingly said to Redpath.
"You're not a bad psychologist. Ya really got his attention when ya called him a gutless bastard and told him ya were gonna run rings around him if ever you were in the same shed together."
"Yeah mate, but I wouldn't dare tell him that, had he been alright."
"Fucking hell no. He's knocked some real big men arse over head for just looking sideways at him."
"Oh shit. I hope he doesn't remember!"
     Late that afternoon, O'malley made another grand entrance into the barroom. This time his thumb was bandaged and his ego was a bit bruised.
"Are ya alright mate?", I asked him.
"Course I'm fucking alright. I'm an Aussie. If it had been a pommy bastard that had gotten bit, he'd have been dead by now."
     Redpath piped up, in a drunken slur, and said,
"If it wasn't for this pommy, you'd have been one big, dead, fucking Aussie. I think you owe us, at least, a round of beer so quit your skiting and put ya fucking money where ya mouth is!"
"We'll have 2 more middys' publican." said O'malley.

     Not long after that Redpath and me did a couple of sheds in South Australia at a place called Narrow Count. We both lost a good few bucks on a horse called Tobin Bronze. According to Redpath, he could not lose! After that, we drove to a place called White Cliffs where they mine for Opal. There was not much work around by now. Redpath told me to go to Broken Hill cause he was gonna get on the grog for at least a week. He said he'd had it with shearing for a while.
     I said goodbye to Redpath the following day and got a ride with the mail truck to Broken Hill. I never saw Redpath again after that. I firmly believe that if he's still alive, he can  be found propping up the bar at the Hilston Hotel in New South Wales!


     Broken Hill was a city in the desert. It was a pretty big place according to the mailman and sported at least a hotel on every street corner. Mining, gambling, shearing Two-Up and drinking were the main activities of this city in 1968. I was 19 years old then and everyday I shore, I was getting faster and cleaner.
     The mailman told me of a bar where all the shearers drank at, but, he said, The Argent Hotel was the best place to stay, so I took him at his word. He dropped me off outside the Argent and I thanked him for the ride and offered to buy him a beer next time I saw him.
     The owner of the Argent was a greek. Nick the Greek, they called him. He was a very friendly bloke. As soon as I spoke a few words of greek to him, it lit up his face and our friendship was established.
     One of the characters I met in the argent was a black fella who went by the name of Soreback. Soreback was a short man and very heavy. He must have weighed 250 pounds, if he weighted a pound. He was totally bald on top and his eyes bulged out slightly, probably because of the amount of grog he used to consume. Old Soreback told me his name was Ralph Horton and that his mother was a Maori from New Zealand.
     I had no reason to not believe him until a bloke told me he was a half-caste Abbo. His real name was Ralph Hampton from Uabalong, a town outside of Lake Cargelligo. The bloke told me Soreback had a brother called Buddha Hampton, who I had met on many occasions in Giltraps Hotel. Old Buddha was always in trouble with the cops when he got on the grog. So much so, it was rumored around the Lake that his death was caused by a severe beating from 3 big cops.The version the police put out was that Buddha Hampton had a heart attack in jail overnight.
     I never said anything to Ralph as I really liked him a lot. It was obvious to me that, for whatever reason, he did not want anyone to know of his past. As far as I was concerned, I met him as 'Soreback' and I called him Soreback over the years that I knew him.  Soreback normally lived in New Zealands' South Island, at a place called Cheviot. He had come over to Australia because a friend of his from Cheviot, who's name was 'Cream' wanted the experience of shearing Aussie Merino sheep.
     Cream was just as big a drinker as Soreback. They both spent their time and money drinking for hours on end at the Argent bar.  Cream had just finished his first Merino shed. As soon as he had a few beers under his belt, he could not stop talking about the shock he'd received when he tried to shear Merinos.
     Over the next couple of days, fate arranged it that, I was to work in a shed with Soreback and Cream as a cook until the contractor could find one. Once he found a cook, he said he'd give me a pen. shearing.  Soreback, Cream and myself drove out to a shed that was miles and miles out in the Bush. The place was called Milperinca. On the map of NSW, it's a tiny little dot, north of Broken Hill. Milperinca was the name of the sheep station.
     There was nothing around us for hundreds of miles but Bush. The first morning, I was up bright and early so I could light the wood stove. I made up a breakfast of bacon, eggs, lamb chops and toast. The bloke who was running the shed for the contractor told me that I'd done a good job at making breakfast but a few of the shearers were big, militant trouble-makers. By lunch time they were complaining about the quality of my cooking. The bloke running the shed, Mick Rice, said to me, "Tell ya what we'll do Yorky. It's pretty easy to see that those complaining bastards, for whatever reason, don't like ya. We won't tell 'em but I'll do the cooking for this evenings meal and we'll just let 'em think that you've done it. That way, we'll get through the shed with no complaints."
     That afternoon, Mick cooked up a beautiful roast with potatoes, cabbage, onions and gravy. When dinner time came, I served up the meal, just as if I'd cooked it. As soon as the meal was over, the same 4 blokes pulled Mick over to the side and told him the meal was shit and they weren't paying good money to eat rotten cooking. When Mick told me what had happened, I asked him why he didn't tell 'em that he'd done the cooking.
"Won't do no good Yorky. They've got a set on ya and they won't be happy until you're out of the kitchen. The following day, instead of cooking breakfast, I was given the job of roustabout, for the rest of the week. I was much happier in the shed but I would have preferred to be shearing instead of picking up wool.
     Old Soreback was having a hard time of it. Every time he got to the last side of the sheep he would straighten up his back for about 20 seconds, then he'd continue to finish the sheep. Between sheep, he would be in the catching pen, spewing up a colorless liquid and coughing like hell. I've seen a lot of shearers in pain in my days but none as bad as Soreback was.
"Hey Yorky."
"What d'ya want Soreback?"
"Shear one for me will ya while I pick up a bit of wool for ya?"
"I'd love to Soreback!", I said as I pulled out a sheep.

     The biggest trouble-maker at the shed was a tall, black-haired bloke called Ron Cole. He was shearing on the stand next to Sorebacks. As soon as he saw me pull out a sheep he gave me a dirty look. I shore 5 sheep for Soreback and by the time I'd warmed up,  I was now keeping up with Cole, blow for blow. He didn't like that one bit. At lunch time he complained to Mick Rice that soreback wasn't doing my job well enough. Rice had no other option but to tell me not to shear anymore sheep for Soreback.

     The end of Milperinca shed found Soreback, Cream and myself, back at the Argent Hotel. There was a space at the bar next to two of the shearers, who had been shearing at the same shed with us. One of the blokes name was Bill, he was one of the roughest-looking characters that you'd ever see. He was around 50 years of age. He had a nose that had been broken at least a couple of times and a long scar on his cheek.
"G'day Bill.", I said. "How're ya doing mate?"
"Not bad Yorky, Now I've got a few middys under mi belt."
     As the Publican was pulling 3 middys for us, Ron Cole, who had been drinking at the end of the bar, casually walked over to where I was standing. From the look on his face, I knew he was going to start causing problems for me. The first words out of his mouth were,
"I don't drink at the same bar as pommy, fucking bastards!"
    Before I could say a word, Bill put his middy down, took out his top and bottom false teeth and said to his mate, "Here, hold these for me and don't fucking drop em!"
He then turned to Cole and said, "Why don't ya put ya fucking beer down you Yankee fucking bastard, cause I'm gonna knock you arse over fucking head! I'm just about sick of you riding this young fella' for the whole shed!"
"Ya no need to be like that!, said Cole, as his face turned white and fear showed in his eyes.
"I won't tell ya again, ya Yankee, fucking bastard! Git out of this fucking hotel now and do your drinking somewhere else! Ya got half-a-fucking minute mate, to make ya mind up, then you'll be on the deck!"
     Cole downed what was left of his middy and put his glass down on the bar. He turned around and walked over to where he'd left his drinking mate who, in turn, downed his beer in a hurry. Both of them walked out of the Argent Hotel together.
     Bill turned to his mate and said, "Ya got me teeth there, Sport?"  His mate handed him both sets.
"Good on ya.", said Bill, as he stuck 'em both in his mouth. "I didn't wanna keep 'em in, in case that Yankee bastard got in a lucky blow."
"Thanks a lot Bill.", I said. "That was real good of ya mate."
"No worries Yorky, I've been wanting to do that for the whole fucking shed. It's a pity the Yankee Bastard wouldn't step up. I was looking forward to stoushing that loud-mouthed bastard."
 "Can I buy you and ya mate a beer?"
"There's no need Yorky, but if ya want to, I won't refuse!"

Friday night in Broken Hill was a big Two-Up night. We all went round to where the game was on, to try out our luck.
     Two-Up is an Aussie game that is played with 2 pennies. The pennies are placed on a flat stick. The bloke who tosses the coins has to throw 2 heads to win. If he throws 2 tails he loses his money and the bank. Two-Up was a very popular game in those days. Many a shearer has lost his full pay in a couple of hours.
     Old Soreback was one of those shearers. Before the night was out, he was broke. He never had a razoo to his name. Needless to say, as soon as we left, I loaned Soreback a hundred bucks which he promised to pay back at the end of his next shed. Before Saturday night was over, Soreback had blown the 100 bucks I'd loaned him on the afternoons' racing, so he bit me for another 50.
     On Sunday afternoon, I noticed a woman, about 50, sitting at the bar in the Argent, having a few beers with a group of men and women. She kept staring over at me. I said to Soreback,
"Who's that old bird over there that keeps staring at me?"
"They call her the Queen Bee mate. She's not that old, she's only about 50, if that?"
"Well, I'm only 19 Soreback. 50 seems old to me."
"They tell me she's a bit of a go-er.  She looks like she's got her eye on you!"
"Don't be stupid Soreback. She's old enough to be mi mother."
"Maybe so Yorky but she's taking more than a bit of interest in ya."
     As the afternoon wore on, I forgot all about the Queen Bee cause I'd had one too many beers for my liking. I said to Soreback,
"I'm off upstairs for a lay down. Give us a shout at Seven, will ya mate?"
"Alright Yorky. Lend me another 50 will ya mate?"
"Jesus, Soreback, you and money part company pretty quick."
"Yeah mate, I know. Don't worry about me not paying ya back Yorky. I always pay up mi debts."
"Alright Soreback, here's another 50. That make 200 bucks now, alright?"
"Good on a mate. You're a real good cobber."
     Once Soreback had the 50, he bought himself another beer and then looked around the bar for another school to join in.

     As I walked up the stairs to mi room, I was walking along the passage when the Queen Bee came walking around the corner from the opposite end.
"G'day, ya staying in one of the rooms for the weekend?", she said.
"Yeah, Number 17s' mine."
     I'd had a few beers that afternoon so I was not my usual shy self.
"Why don't we have a beer together?"
"I  just came up for a rest. I've had a couple of beers too many already."
"Well one more won't make much difference. I'll go back downstairs and bring up a bottle. Leave the door open for me for when I get back."
     She took off down the corridor and disappeared around the corner. I shot in mi room and locked the door.  'Maybe she was only joking', I thought, as I lay on the bed, mi heart pounding away. I was remembering what Soreback had said about her being a bit of a go-er.
     Some one turned the handle of the door. When it wouldn't open, I heard of couple of light taps. Although my heart was now pounding away with fear, I saw myself get off the bed and walk over to the door. Mi hand reached up and turned the Yale lock. When mi other hand turned the knob and pulled open the door, the Queen Bee quickly stepped inside.
"Lock the door in case anyone comes. I'm not supposed to be up here."
     She put the bottle on the table next to the bed and then said,
"Aren't ya gonna offer me a drink?"
"Oh yeah.", I said, as I popped off the top with the corner of mi round tobacco tin. I poured out a couple of glasses. She said, "Cheers mate!
     It only took her about 2 swallows and the middy glass of beer was gone. She asked me mi name and where I'd been shearing. As soon as I put the glass down, she stood up and pulled down her knickers and then stepped out of them, all the time not taking her eyes off me. She lay down on the bed and pulled me over on top of her.
"Come on, let's go! Give me a real good, hard fucking!"
     The fear I had been experiencing now turned to incredible excitement as she stuck her tongue half-way down my throat. When I responded, she started to move around on the bed. At the same time, she pulled mi t-shirt out of mi jeans.  I'd only ever been with a couple of young girls before. This was a brand new experience for me.
     The Queen Bee started to moan a bit as she dug her fingernails into my back. Although it hurt somewhat, I did not find myself complaining. She started to tear at mi belt trying to undo it. To make matters easier, I gave her a hand.
     I heard a strange growling sound as I pushed myself into her body. The fear started to come back as she growled and tore at mi skin. Her hips pounded away at mine as her arms and legs wrapped around me in a vice-like grip. The growling grew even louder as she bit my shoulder muscle really hard!
     I used to think I had what it took to be a bit of a stud until the Queen Bee got her teeth into me. All I could think of now, was how I was going to get away from this thrashing, biting and scratching tiger. The growling got loud at one point that I opened my eyes to check and see what it was that I'd let into my room. When I saw it was an old woman, all sorts of feelings started to flash through mi mind.
     Just then, I heard a voice in mi head say, "What's it like fucking a pensioner?" 
     Another voice said, "Jesus mate, she's old enough to be your mother!"
     A voice I recognized as mi mothers' said, "Don't forget son, treat every woman you meet with respect like you would your own mother!"
     Then another voice, which I didn't recognize said, "Don't listen to those wimpy voices. Give the horny, old bitch the best fucking she's ever had in her life!"
     By this time, what with the voices and her animal-like growling, I was totally confused. The energy had built up to such a point now that I could no longer control it. The next thing I felt was a huge explosion from between mi legs. This uncontrollable orgasm sent the Queen Bee into an orgasmic fit of her own.The growling now turned into a scream as she squeezed her thighs together and thrust her crotch into mine.
     I now became aware of the pain in my back as her fingernails dug into mi skin and clawed their way downwards. After it was all over, I pulled her arms from around me. It was like trying to get away from an octopus with nails.
     When I eventually got free, I said, "You better go before someone finds you up here."
"Yeah, perhaps you're right."
     As I watched her get dressed, I was feeling all sorts of emotions again, not to mention the burning sensation in mi back. Once she was dressed, she re-adjusted her skirt and said, "See ya around honey."
"Yeah, see ya later.", I said as I quietly locked the door behind her, in case she changed her mind.
     As I sat on the side of the bed where she had just lain, I could smell her odor all over the place. I sprinkled some of mi Old Spice After Shave on the top cover, to get rid of it.  I pulled off mi good white t-shirt and discovered it was blood-stained. I walked over to the long mirror and turned mi back to it, twisting mi neck so I could see.
     It was not a pretty sight. There were long, red fingernail marks all the way down mi back. They started at the center of mi back and curved down towards mi ribs. There were still drops of blood trickling down the tracks. A new feeling started to creep in, as I stood there. I felt incredibly dirty. I grabbed the towel which was hanging over the end of the bed and made mi way along the corridor to the shower, hoping not to bump into any of the other shearers that were staying there.
     Once the hot water was adjusted right, I stood under the shower for ages trying to wash away the voices. The water stung mi back as it washed over the open skin. After a while I couldn't feel it. 'It must have gone numb.', I thought.
     The next time I saw the Queen Bee in the Argent Hotel, she looked past me like she didn't even know me. I lit up a smoke, picked up mi beer and carried on mi life like it had never really happened.
  The next shed I shore at, one of the shearers asked me if I'd got drunk and fallen into a barb-wire fence, when he saw mi shoulders.
"No mate, I had a dream I was fighting a huge tiger and when I woke up the scratches were there!"
"Right mate! Pull this one, it's got fucking bells on it.

     The weekend arrived again and mi shed was finished. From all accounts work around Broken Hill would now be in short supply. I was having a beer with Soreback and Cream when Soreback announced, "I've had enough of this fucking place! I'm thinking I'll go home to New Zealand."
"Yeah, me too.", said Cream. "These bastard sheep are too good for me!"
"When ya planning on leaving, Soreback?", I asked.
"Soon as I get the shearing contractor in New Zealand to send me some money for a ticket." By now Soreback was into me for $300. I casually asked him about the money he owed me.
"Don't worry about it Yorky. Soon as I get working in Cheviot again, I'll send ya the money to wherever ya like. Ya know, you could come over to New Zealand with mi, if you want to."
     I'd never contemplated leaving Australia but as soon as old Soreback mentioned it,  I considered the possibilities and said, "Yeah, why not mate! I can only think of going back to Lake Cargelligo and there's not lot of shearing around there this time of year."
     The decision was made. Over the next few days, we booked a flight from Broken Hill to Sydney which arrived at 4 in the afternoon. The flight to New Zealand left the following day at 2pm.
     Flying across NSW in a plane was my first air flight. It was an incredible experience to look down and see all the dry, bush country that I'd wandered around in for the past 4 years. I felt more than a little sad as the plane crossed the vast outback. City living was not for me. When the small plane touched down at Kingston-Smith airport in Sydney, life took on a completely different dimension.
"Where we gonna stay tonight Soreback?". I asked.
"There's a cheap hotel at Kings Cross. I stayed there on the way over. I can't remember the name but I do remember the huge neon Coca Cola sign at the top of Williams street."
     The hotel was a pretty clean place and not too expensive for one night, in the heart of Kings Cross. Once we'd dropped our gear off at the room, we all went back downstairs to look over the Cross. We found a comfortable bar with a big window. We could relax and watch the procession of prostitutes walking up and down the streets. Later on that evening we went for a good meal. Soreback suggested we take a walk around the brothels to see what action was going on.
     In 1968, there used to be rows and row of terraced houses off of Williams Street. Every single one of those houses was a whore house. As we walked around the streets, women of all ages, sizes and shapes sat in the front windows of the houses. Most of them were clad only in thin, see-through negligees. Some of them were completely topless. As we walked around, with the hundreds of other people, some of the whores would smile and crook a finger in our direction. A lot of the women I was  seeing were really hard-faced and wore tons of makeup, trying to hide the life of pain and suffering they were leading. Every now and then I'd see a decent looking woman. I guessed she mustn't have been in the business very long.
     Old Soreback was 59 at the time. As soon as he saw a woman that he fancied he said,
"Jesus, look at the tits on that sheila. I think I'll go in for a closer inspection."
"You're not serious are you Ralph?", I asked.
"Course I'm fucking serious. I've got plenty money in mi pocket and we're only in town for one evening so why not? I'll see ya both back at the hotel later."
     With that, Soreback headed for the front door. When the woman with the huge knockers saw Ralph coming, she climbed out of the window, opening her legs as she went. A few seconds later she appeared at the door and Soreback disappeared inside.
"How the fuck can he do that?", I said to Cream.
"I don't know mate. When we first came over from New Zealand, I went into a place miself. It was the worst experience of mi life but old Soreback loves 'em. He must have spent at least a third of his money in these places."
     Once Cream and me had finished looking around, we headed back up the Cross to the bar where we'd arranged to meet Soreback. Cream, who's real name was John Burnett, was a very quiet bloke until he'd had a few too many Aussie beers. Once he was full, his personality changed quite radically. Not that he got violent or anything like that. The more beer he consumed the more stupid he became. His voice use to change and all these weird characters would start to flow out of him. Over the years I knew him, he only once flew off the handle. Old Soreback had him pretty well under control.
     Around midnight, Soreback came back to the hotel bar where we were waiting for him. Cream and I kidded him about his sore back. When he was shearing, he always had to straighten his back before he could finish the sheep. I said to him, "Hey Ralph, did ya have to get off and straighten ya back before ya finished her off?"
"Don't be silly mate. Mi back's never felt better in mi life. In fact, I think I'll have a few more beers and go back for another go. Maybe I'll try a different one this time."
     Back at the hotel, we had a large room with 3 single beds in it. The following morning, I was up real early. When I looked around, old Sorebacks' bed was empty. He must have been up all night. At around 6:30 he arrived back at the room. He was pretty drunk. The back of his shirt was out and his dark, bulging eyes were bloodshot red.
"D'ya have a good night Soreback?", I asked.
"Shit yeah, course I did Yorky. Ya never know mate, I may never come this way again so I made the best of a night in Kings Cross."
     Old Soreback had now gone through most of the money the contractor in New Zealand had sent him. He bit Cream for a hundred bucks and we all took off up the Cross to the Bourbon and Beef Steak for a hearty breakfast of T-bone steak and eggs. By the time the afternoon came, I was ready to go to the airport. Although I had a lot of fun walking around the Cross, it was not a place that I would have liked to live.

     I was quite happy and relaxed as we made our selves comfortable on the big Air New Zealand plane. The Pilots' voice came over the intercom and gave us a few relative bits of information like travel time and weather. Once he was finished, the seat belt sign flashed on and the Jet taxied down the runway. A few minutes later the nose of the plane was pointing skywards and were on our way to New Zealand.



Friday, November 17, 2017


     There was a bloke who lived 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 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 in 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 got 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 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 and 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. Inwardly, I projected the message into his mind and just in case he was in doubt about it, 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 fact are 2 different fucking things Ray. Anytime ya ready mate, make a move!"
"Alright ya pommey 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 and 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 intuitively 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 pommey 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.
"He Yorky.", he said. "Are you gonna have another 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. He had been there since opening time.

     Shortly after that, I never saw Gundy  for 10 years. As soon as I walked into Giltraps, he said,
"Hey Chummy, do ya remember the night when...........?


     Many strange things happened at Giltraps' Hotel over the years. Like the time a 'blow-in' arrived in town with his old lady. He was an Electrician by trade. He walked into the bar and ordered a couple of beers and then told George Giltrap to send on out to the 'Sow Pen' where his Missus was sitting.

     He was a smallish and thin bloke with a full head of hair and a couple of days growth on his unassuming face.

     He was trying to be too friendly with a bar full of strangers, too fast. This put many people on the defensive so only a couple of local blokes would have a beer with him. Him and his missus walked into the bar at around 3 O'clock that afternoon and by 8 O'clock that night they were both pretty 'full' (drunk). Every hour or so he would go through to the Sow Pen to see how his old lady was getting on.   
     At around 8 O'clock that night they had a huge, drunken argument. The Electrician decided he was going to check out the towns other two hotels, on his own. As soon as he left, a couple of the younger blokes wandered into the Sow Pen to see how his old lady was making out.

     She was sat at a table with some of the local women who had acquired a taste for a cold glass of Aussie beer. She was not an ugly woman, by no means. She was no Mona Lisa either. She had a pleasant-looking face with shoulder length, dark brown hair.  She had large breasts that hung down on top of a couple of spare tires. Her butt was also not on the small side but she was pretty well-dressed and looked quite clean. Her age was somewhere around the 50 mark, the same as her old man.

     By the time 11 O'clock came and Giltrap was about to call, "Last orders", some of the blokes who  had been drinking with her, bought themselves and her a couple of last beers. One of the blokes asked when her old man would be back and she said, "Oh, he's probably outside one of the other hotels blind drunk and asleep in the car by now."

     How it happened, I don't know, but one of the blokes, who was staying at the hotel, took her off down to his room after the bar was closed down. To cut a long story short, 12 blokes went through her that night in rapid succession!

     At about 12:30 there was a knock on my door. When I opened it, one of the young blokes I knew, said to me,
"Ya want a root Yorky?"
"What the hell are ya talking about?", I asked, in a sleepy voice. "It's late mate. Is this your idea of a fucking joke?"
"No Yorky!", he protested. "I'm fair dinkum! Do ya wanna root?"
"What d'ya mean, Do I want a root?"
"Ya know that old Sheila that was in the Sow Pen?"
"Yeah, the blow-ins old lady."
"Yeah mate."
"What about her?", I asked.
"She's layed on the floor, on her back, in the top room, taking on all comers mate!"
"Fucking bullshit sport. Piss off, I'm goin' back to bed."
"Alright, please ya self Yorky. You'll hear all about it in the morning."
"Alright, wait till I get dressed. I'll believe it when I see it!"
     A few minutes later, I was dressed and walking down the, now-deserted, corridor towards the room. Once outside the door, he said to me,
"She's in here mate, but don't make any noise when we go in. The light will be off so be careful ya don't fall in."
"You're such a bullshitter!", I said as he opened the door and we walked inside the room.
     After the door was closed, he said very quietly,
"She's over there mate on her back. Just walk over and hop on, sport!"
"Fuck you. I can't see a thing. It's too dark in here 'cause the curtains are closed. Put the lights on so I can see."
"No mate, she'll git up and leave if we do that."
"You're so full of bullshit! I'm gonna put the light on."
     When mi hand found the light switch, I clicked it on and the darkened room exploded with light. My mouth fell open with shock when I found out that he was not kidding me. Right in the middle of the carpeted floor was the Electricians wife. She was laid on her back with a pillow under her head. Her skirt was hiked up over one of her spare tires. She had no pants on and her legs were spread wide apart.
     As I stood there, I felt like puking at the sight. When she said, "Well come on then, what are ya waiting for? Are ya gonna git on or just stand there with ya mouth open, starin' at it?"
I took a noisy swallow and then I heard miself say, "No thank you. I must be in the wrong room. I'm sorry, good night!"
     With that, I hit the light switch and bolted out of the room, leaving the bloke behind.
     The next day, I was the joke of the barroom again. The only way of salvaging my manhood was to say.
"I'm very superstitious. I would have had a go, but not the Thirteenth!"

Thursday, November 16, 2017


     People who lived in the Bush towns around the 1960s' were not too fond of tattoos. On too many occasions, I would be asked, "Why d'ya git those stupid fucking tattoos on ya arms. Only criminals wear tattoos in Australia."

     After a few hundred times of being asked this question, I used to get pretty sick of it so I decided to wear long-sleeved shirts.

     This little decision made life more than a bit uncomfortable for me, especially during the long hot summer months. One hot Saturday morning, I went down to the local news agents shop for a look around his store. I happened to pick up what is today called a 'sleaze' magazine. As I scanned through the back section I noticed an ad for a new product called TATTOO REMOVAL. The magazine had some very funny stories in it so I bought it and stuck it in mi back pocket.

     Later that day as I was laid on mi bed, I started to read through the back section again. Once I came to the page that advertised Tattoo Removal, I read the small print which said, 'Remove your unwanted tattoos painlessly and permanently with our brand new product. I pondered the thought that this new product, if genuine, would make life a tiny bit more comfortable for me. The next time the Post Office was open, I bought miself a money order and mailed it off to the company, with my return address.

      About 14 days later I saw Big Tex in Blackers Hotel. Big Tex was about 6' 6" with jet black hair and a permanent 5 O'clock shadow.  He wore dark-rimmed glasses and spoke with a slow, Aussie drawl. Tex was about 30 years old at that time and had worked for the Post Office since he left school at 15.
    He was always very respectful to me. Anytime a letter arrived he would, on many occasions, deliver it to the Hotel bar for me or he'd tell me where the mail was sent from and asked me what he should do with it.
"There's a small package for ya at the General Delivery, Yorky."
"Where's it from Tex?"
"It's from a company called TATTOO REMOVAL in Melbourne somewhere."
"Oh, I know what that is.", I said.
"Ya gonna get rid of your tattoos' Yorky?"
"I don't know how well it'll work Tex but I'm gonna give her a go, mate."
"If ya wanna go across the street with me to the Post Office, I've got the keys. I'll get it for ya now, if ya like."
"That's pretty good of ya Tex. Why not. Let's go mate. I'll buy ya a  beer when we get back."

     That afternoon, as I sat quietly on mi bed, I opened the package to see what miracle it contained. Inside the small box was a tiny plastic bottle of white sticky liquid, a half-inch square of hard abrasive pad and a small, white sheet with the easy-to-follow directions on it.
'That looks pretty simple to me.', I thought.
     I decided to waste no time. First of all I shaved the area between mi thumb and first finger where the 5-pointed red and black star sat. Next, I scratched the top layer of skin away with the small, hard abrasive pad. Soon as this was done, I dipped a tooth pick into the white fluid and drew white lines on top of the black ink lines. As I was doing this, I noticed a slight burning sensation, probably from scratching the skin, I thought, as I plastered on more of the white liquid.
     After I had covered all the lines on both mi hands, I lay back on the bed to let the white stuff dry. I must have dozed off for a few too many minutes because a strong, burning pain caused me to wake up. As I sat up, I looked straight down at mi hands. I swear a fine wisp of mist was coming out of the tattoos.
     'This doesn't look too good to me.', I thought, as I stared at the white fluid which now seemed to be making its way under mi skin. I jumped off the bed and washed mi hands with cold water and soap.
     Once I dried 'em, I was astonished to see that the white fluid had eaten its way into mi hands about 1/16 of an inch. All I could see now was quite large open trenches in a star shape. When I looked very carefully into the open scars, there was still dark blue ink in the open flesh. I threw the white fluid into the trash can and made a couple of clean patches out of a white hanky to tape on mi hands.  It didn't take me long to work out that the white fluid had a high percentage of acid! No wonder it was slowly sinking into mi hands.
     Had I not have woken up, who knows, I may have been able to whistle through the web between mi thumb and first finger.

     The open scars took about 8 weeks to heal and to this day the scarring is raised and visible.  So much for the tattoo removal and so much for the the long-sleeved shirts. From that point on, I didn't have to deal with mi tattoos' again. Everyone else had the problem, not me.