Life in the bush

Old Jan 12th 2017, 3:17 pm
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
I suppose that some (many?) British immigrants will be surprised that I have never mentioned the presence of aborigines in my little part of the Australian bush. But there were almost none there. There must have been some, of course; but their culture didn't tie them to permanent residence in any one place. They had their hereditary sacred places, which British settlers and British authorities generally disregarded; but they (the aborigines) didn't have villages. They also didn't believe in individual title to any piece of land.

Cultures that recognised formal land ownership have always had a hard time getting their minds around the concept of entitlement-without-title. Hence all the warfare in the Americas and elsewhere where the two incompatible cultures met.

There were usually two or three aborigines hanging around gymkhanas and the like, where I lived as a child, but they were pretty much ignored - neither included nor excluded. The British courts, at the time of the earliest British invasions, ruled that they weren't human. In my time, on the Downs, they were assuredly regarded as human, but (generally speaking) simply too foreign to bother with.
That's because in Queensland you shot them all.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 3:47 pm
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Kim67
That's because in Queensland you shot them all.
That would have been the British who did that. When their descendants became Australian, they stopped shooting.
(Why would you say such a silly thing, without knowing your history?)
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
That would have been the British who did that. When their descendants became Australian, they stopped shooting.
(Why would you say such a silly thing, without knowing your history?)
It was a little bit tongue in cheek Gordon. Have you never bard the urban myth from those of us that come South and West of the border. I'm from WA and the history of our treatment of indigenous Australians is still appalling to this day.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 11:58 pm
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Kim67
That's because in Queensland you shot them all.
Not all of them, Cherberg is a lovely place
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 1:55 am
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Kim67
It was a little bit tongue in cheek Gordon. Have you never bard the urban myth from those of us that come South and West of the border. I'm from WA and the history of our treatment of indigenous Australians is still appalling to this day.
OK, Kim. Forgiven, and I'm sorry to go off on you.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 8:17 am
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by cresta57
Not all of them, Cherberg is a lovely place
I haven't had the pleasure. I was so surprised when i moved from Perth to Brisbane - it took line four years before i saw an Aboriginal person! Then when my eldest went to Somerville House she buddied up with the only indigenous family at school.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 8:40 am
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Kim67
I haven't had the pleasure. I was so surprised when i moved from Perth to Brisbane - it took line four years before i saw an Aboriginal person! Then when my eldest went to Somerville House she buddied up with the only indigenous family at school.
The highlight of New Year's Day there was Chris Sandow bare knuckle boxing in the street. We don't know what we're missing do we
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 9:00 am
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Default Re: Life in the bush

Originally Posted by Kim67
I haven't had the pleasure. I was so surprised when i moved from Perth to Brisbane - it took line four years before i saw an Aboriginal person! Then when my eldest went to Somerville House she buddied up with the only indigenous family at school.
At my Brisbane boarding school ("Churchie" - the 'brother' school of Somerville House, I think) we had an aborigine boy in our dorm - inevitably nick-named "Jacky", poor chap. Looking back from today's perspective, he must surely have been one of the infamous "stolen generation" - abducted by the state, fostered and later adopted by a white family (his surname was McDermot), and presumably educated in white schools up to secondary level which was when he came to Churchie. There was nothing unusual in the way he spoke - or in his exam results, as far as I can remember - and he socialised easily with the rest of us. There was no colour discrimination among us kids.
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Old Jan 20th 2017, 9:15 am
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Aboriginal ‘resistance war’ tactics – ‘The Black War’ of southern Queensland | Kerkhove | Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Anybody interested in the dispossessed aborigines in the Darling Downs and southern Queensland generally, might like to access the above link. People of my generation had absolutely no knowledge of natives' resistance to the steady occupation of their land by British settlers. We were not taught anything about it at our schools, and I daresay our parents knew nothing either.

My father and his brother settled on a "living acreage" of about 5000 acres, when either the original squatter (an Englishman called Hannaford from the free-colony of South Australia) or his heirs sold it at auction or - less likely - the government of Queensland confiscated it from him and allocated several "selections" to individuals willing to live on them and "improve" them at their own cost and with their own labour. Or there may have been several owners in between. We didn't know, and I don't know now. I guess there must have been some resistance by the tribal aborigines, as there was all over the continent, but to the best of our knowledge it wasn't reported. No natives were ever granted a land-title, I know that.

One of my English grandfathers was almost certainly killed as an intruder by aborigines on one of the goldfields of northern Queensland in 1898; but such incidents seemed to be relatively rare. A generation later, my mother's Australian-born father used to go into the forests of south-eastern Queensland and negotiate (peacefully) with the natives of the area for the right to fell trees and cut them up on site, to be taken away as inventory for his family's timber-mill in Ipswich, a major immigrant-town.
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Old Jan 25th 2017, 2:12 pm
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This is a bit off-topic, but vaguely related to the subject of the Australian aborigines. An immigrant grandfather of my mother's settled on a 160-acres "selection" in Marian up near Mackay in Queensland, in the early 1870s, and took up sugar-cane farming. He was assigned some South Sea Islanders (abducted from their home islands), and at the time of his death in 1908, he had nine working for him. His widow went off to live in Brisbane, and his "kanakas" disappeared. Whether they were "repatriated" to one of the islands (the authorities didn't care which ones) or stayed in Queensland, I've no idea. Maybe their indentures were picked up by one of the neighbours.

For a few years in the 1970s, my mother lived in Fingal, a town near the Qld-NSW border, on the coast, and there was a colony of PIs living there at the time. At roughly the same time, my wife and I spent three years living in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), an archipelago that was one of the hunting-grounds of the "blackbirders" - slave-traders who captured natives and transported them to the canefields of the Australian colonies.

We didn't learn about any of that at my school, either.
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Old Feb 5th 2017, 4:12 am
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In the 1861 English census, my mother's maternal grandmother Emma was aged seven, and listed as a "scholar" in a parish of Cornwall. That may have been a lie; she may have been working down the mines - a common fate for Cornish children at that time. When she married in Queensland in 1873, she signed the Register with an "X". She lived on her husband's sugar farm out in the bush, which was worked by Pacific Islanders, abducted from their islands and assigned to him by the colonial government agency. I think of her as having risen from slave to slave-owner, within twelve years.

A bit of an exaggeration, and a bit of speculation, but a reasonably fair comment, I think. Would she really have been her father's slave, as a child? Seems a harsh speculation, but who knows? In view of the man's character, she may well have been. In Queensland, he turned out to be a drunkard and vicious wife-beater, who was killed with an axe one night as he lay outside his house in a stupor. Reading between the lines of the Coroner's report, the killer was almost certainly one of his sons (Emma's brothers). Nobody was ever prosecuted for the crime: "wild-west justice", perhaps.
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Old Feb 12th 2017, 3:10 pm
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I've just been reading on the Canada "Maple Leaf" thread about certain parts of an animal that aren't eaten in all countries - the tongue, for one. In my childhood in the Queensland bush, Dad killed a sheep every ten days and cut it up as best he could. (He always chose to kill the leanest, stringiest old wether - saving the good ones to fatten for sale to the butchers in town.) We ate the basic cuts, I guess - plus the brains, which are extremely tasty, when fried. Towards the end of our time there, he jacked up on cleaning out the brains, which he reckoned was too messy a business; I don't know what took him so long to decide that. I don't recall us eating any of the head at all, although I would have expected the cheeks to be nice and tender. We didn't eat any of the stomach, either. At boarding school they fed us "tripe" once a week, which I think is the lining of a cow's stomach; but it was awful stuff, and I always swapped mine for some other kid's liver.

Wethers don't have testicles***, so those weren't on the menu. (Rams do, but I don't think we ever owned a ram; Dad must have borrowed one from a neighbour, when he needed one.) I seem to remember eating sheep's balls in a restaurant in town once or twice. What were they called on the menu? Can anybody help me? Sweetbreads, was it? Or "tenders"?
*** How they came not to have testicles, in the days before the invention of tight rubber bands, is an interesting story on its own; but I'd better check to see that I haven't mentioned it before. With over 10,000 visits to date, this "Life in the bush" thread is apparently popular enough to warrant my continuing to post to it. I don't want to ruin things by double-posting.

Once on my travels in the Middle East I was offered a sheep's eye, for the first time in my life. But I'll report on that in a new "On the Road" thread in the Lounge section of this site. (I'll start it as soon as I've finished this post.)
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Old Feb 26th 2017, 4:40 am
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My brothers and I are arguing about a photo labelled 1937 of our uncle on top of the old shack he and our dad lived in before the War (WWII) - and before the new house was built for our mother and whatever family came along. The uncle went off to war (Palestine, to begin with) and was killed during the Salamaua campaign in New Guinea. I don't know what living arrangements would have been made if he'd come back - another new house, I guess. The two young men (both tearaways, I gather) weren't qualified for any other work besides sheep-farming, and that was largely self-taught. Dad worked as a jackeroo somewhere out near Charleville, I'm told, but was fired - probably for getting drunk and not turning up for work. (That's what got him fired from a bank in Toowoomba, before he was banished to the bush.)

The new house was well-built, with properly sawn timber - in stark contrast to the old shack. One of my brothers says the construction was supervised by a professional builder from nearby Tara (pop. 700), but I wonder where the timber came from. Mum's father's had once been a timber merchant in his family's company in Ipswich, so maybe that was the source of the timber. Sadly, it's too late now to find out for sure.
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Old Mar 5th 2017, 12:15 pm
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I came across the word "ring-bark" a few days ago; it quite took me back to my childhood in the bush. "Ringbarking" is what my dad did to kill trees: cut a deepish wedge (between one and two inches deep, depending on the girth of the tree) in a circle. The tree then bled to a permanent death. It had to be done in the heat of summer when the sap was towards the top of the trees. A less permanent solution, for trees using water that would otherwise be used by grass for the sheep, was "sucker-bashing" - "suckers" being younger and slighter trees. They were simply slashed a couple of feet above the ground to get them out of the way.
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Old Mar 12th 2017, 12:45 pm
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Bushfires were a permanent threat in the bush,but rarely an imminent danger. In the fifteen years I lived there, I only recall one time that our property was actually in danger. We (the whole family) were on our annual holidays in Mum's parents' cottage down on the south coast, when Dad had to rush back home. The situation was so hairy that we had to stay on the coast for about three months; I faintly remember being enrolled at the local school - I must have been about seven.

The only defence the graziers could muster was the burning and cutting of fire-breaks - clearing space until it was too wide for the fires to jump. There was no water except in the dams (open-air storage-pits), and no chemical fire-retardant of any kind. Exhausting work for all the residents in the affected area. After six months without rain - twelve, in droughts, when the rains had failed - the grass and trees were tinder-dry, and too easily set alight by a spark from a steam-train or (sometimes) lightning.
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