My story starts with my mother and father pictured above. My memories of days in the bush when my father and older brothers would go hunting for kangaroos while my self and younger sister would stay with our mother. We would build a fire in the middle of the bush track which was later known as the fire place, for them days we would rarely ever see another person. The amount of times we would see another person over a 12 month period dad could count on his left hand. Incidentally he only had 2 fingers on the left hand.
The photo below is my family. Yours truly on the back row on the left, then brother's Reg. Bob and Tom. Seated are Dad, Mum and sister Phyllis on mums 80th birthday.
My father befriended one man in particular,we referred to as old Paddy. Paddy had made a makeshift camp out of some very ordinary material such as corrugated iron and canvas, which you can see in the back round over paddy's left shoulder. Settled amongst the Peppy trees and the natural shrub. Paddy chose this spot because of the isolation and privacy from other campers, the location also gave him access to the fresh water tanks that were located twenty to thirty yards from his camp. For Paddy was slowing up with old age. My father took him in as a father figure. My dad never knew his own father. For he was a victim of the STOLEN GENERATION in the year 1923 when he was six years of age. I will tell you in detail what took place as much as I know and this story unfolds. I will tell you on my fathers memory that this is the TRUTH.
This photo shows old Paddy's camp on the right, and a caravan my father talked him into buying, for his old camp was fast deteriorating the canvas was rotting and leaking water. Also on the left you can see our camp. Further to the left was a Collie family who were good friends of our family, and a good fishing mate of my father. Mick and Hazel Hetherington.
On one particular camping trip when my Mum and Dad arrived Mick and Hazel had already been there a few day's, Mick came over to my father and said I think old Paddy is dead, I can amagine waves of sadness going through my fathers mind and heart. In the photo you can see the doorway of Paddy's caravan, my father put his head inside the caravan and he could see what I presume Mick Hetherington saw, THE SOLES OF PADDY'S BOOTS, on further investigation he saw lying on its side an empty bottle of wine, and Paddy with a contented look on his face, He turned to Mick with a big smile on his face and said your half right Mick, Paddy's dead drunk.
This photo shows Paddy's camp from the waterfront I'm standing in water. You can also see his little garden patch fenced off. This photo was taken in the mid sixties, when you first walked into Paddy's camp on the left was a fireplace which consisted of two rows of bricks with two metal bars across the top of the bricks where Paddy used to place an old kerosine tin on top of the bars, the kerosine tin would hold about 15 to 20 litres roughly. Paddy would put all his potato peelings and whatever else, fish carcasses, old bread and whenever he lit the fire to cook his tea the kerosine tin would bubble away which would have helped prevent it smelling to bad. ( mind you it did pong)
Inside the tin there was a piece of pine board about 3inches wide 2 feet long and a baked bean tin nailed to the end this was Paddy's berley tin, he would scoop out a tin full of berley, he would walk to the waters edge where I am standing and throw the berley in the water, then he would go back to his camp for however long then he'd go back down with his hand line and catch his dinner or his tea and sometimes breakfast. Paddy lived in a world of his own for he had no relations and all the years I knew him he had no visitors. A friend of our family who turned up with his wife who was heavily pregnant introduced her to Paddy , Paddy looked at the size of her belly and said the south easterly's will blow anything up. The south easterly's are the dominant summer winds. Paddy had a real belly laugh he wouldn't make a sound but his belly would wobble up and down.
This is a photo of my Mum and Dad with old Paddy in Paddy's boat in front of Paddy's camp in the back round you can see the mouth of the Blackwood River. Something else my father would do for Paddy was supply him with firewood during my fathers holidays. He would cut enough firewood to last Paddy for the year free of charge. This was before the day of the chainsaw, my father had what they called a power saw a big saw that was on wheels, which had a motor, a long bar and a big circular saw which took up most of the back of the utility. With this saw he had a license to cut firewood, which he sold to his customers in Collie, including 3foot lengths of firewood for the dry cleaners.
|This is another view of Paddy's camp from the waters edge, you can see the little pad coming down leading to the water, also the natural bush is starting to reclaim Paddy's camp. My father used to prune all the bush back, also his garden has been reclaimed. We always thought it rained every night and most days in Augusta, the farmland surrounding Augusta seemed to be green all summer, you can only amagine what was going through Paddy's mind on these wet miserable days for he was a PRISONER OF WAR in Germany in the First World War. Maybe this was Paddy's way of getting peace of mind by turning his back on society.|
This is what Turners Caravan Park looked like before they modernized and Augusta became popular. when we first started camping in Augusta in the mid 50's the cost for a weeks rent was 10 shillings or one dollar in todays language. The big water tanks where Paddy used to get his water were inside a big weather board shed at Paddy's end, at the other end was a little room where the campers could iron their clothes, also there was roughly a half a dozen taps were you could for a PENNY fill a bucket of water, in today's language one CENT. also in the shed my father would store all his camping gear, a meters wood stove, iron framed beds, tent props that were cut from the forest, also a kerosine fridge, our lighting was hurricane lamps and tilly lamps which run on kerosine. By leaving these in the shed it would make room for our family to travel down from Collie to Augusta which was roughly 250 kilometers in a Vanguard Ute.
In 1961 I was 14yrs old and I was working with two old Collie Identities The Buckle Brothers, there's many stories on these brothers some you take with a little bit of salt , because over my time I was told many stories from old bushman, and today I'm still being told , these old bushman would tell me stories and I would look with a little bit of doubt on my face, then some of them would smile and say if you don't believe what I've just told you go and ask any one of the Buckle Brothers.
They once told me a story they were driving along a country road when a big male kangaroo bounded onto the road in front of them which they hit, they tell me the boomer went flying through the air they then got out to inspect the damage to the car and the roo, one of the brothers said "we should take a photo of the kangaroo." The other brother said "I'll put this bottle of beer in his hand," the other brother laughed and said "I'l take my coat off and put that on him as well," they told me they done the buttons up and it was quite a neat fit. I almost got this photo which I could have shown you when all of a sudden the boomer shook his head, scrambled to his feet, lunged at my brother then bounded off into the bush as though he had'nt been hit. The doubtful look, I shook my head and as I walked away one of the brothers said to me "if you ever shoot a big male kangaroo with a coat on you can keep it." I turned and shook my head again, then as I started to walk away one of the brothers said "I want my wallet back it's in the inside pocket".
BACK TO THE TRUTH, While working with the Buckle brothers falling trees on private property and splitting fence posts out of the trees with sledge hammer and wedges. One of my jobs was to take the bark off the big logs, they told me to never stand on the same side as I was taking the bark off with the axe, but to stand on the opposite side seemed a little bit awkward and slower. I soon learned why he told me that, for standing on the same side the axe ricochet off the log and the corner of the axe blade struck me just below the knee. I remember sneaking off to the car and putting a couple of bandaids on my wound, too embarrassed to tell them.
Another incident was back at the camp we were sitting around the campfire, the Buckle boys were drinking from a flagon which held I think about 6 litres of plonk, which they refered to as lunatic soup. They were good company and I liked their stories. This particular night they told me to go down through the bush and get a bucket of water out of the creek, as I got away from the light of the fire I had a little torch that was nearly flat, one of the Buckle boys yelled out watch out for the" SCREAMING CURLEW", I'd never heard that name, I know I started off with a full bucket but you try running with a full bucket in the night with a half flat torch and looking back over your shoulder. We'd put the bucket of water on the fire so we could have a warm wash and I could make a billy of tea.
Then it was time to go to bed, I reminded the brothers how late it was, they staggered up off their seat, the biggest of the brothers was a big lump of a man he stumbles forward and falls both hands in the fire, off balance he could'nt stand back up, by the time I got to him and pulled him back from the fire his hands were severely burnt. Needless to say the big man was fairly wailing, then I realised bandaids were no good for his wounds, we were about 3 or 4 kilometres from the nearest farm, who were friends of the Buckles, luck had it there was 3quarters of a moon, so I headed off up a gravel road, I didn't bother taking the torch because I remembered earlier in the night while getting that BUCKET of water it was all but flat, about a kilometre into my journey I also remembered that F;;n "SCREAMING CURLEY". the gravel road I was on went for about 2kilometres to a T road which was the highway into Augusta and the farm I was heading for was about 1kilometre to the left of the T road, so now I'm 1kilometre into my journey I thought that if I cut off to my left through the paddocks and bits of bush I could shorten my journey, not so much in distance more so in time, and my ordeal would be ended, but halfway across the paddocks I don't know how many cows the farmer had but everyone of them chased me.
I remember trying to find things on the ground to throw at them. When I came to the farmers house it was in darkness I knocked on the door, while waiting for someone to answer I remember the relief thinking that I'd made it, I' beat all the cows and that SCREAMING CURLEW. The farmers wife came to the door she knew me and said whats wrong love, I told what had happened, how bad his wounds were she gave me a big round tin of ointment I think they called it fish emullsion which was used for many different wounds or burns. She told me how to apply it and wrap the bandage around his hands.
She told me her husband had been drinking and was in the same state as the Buckle boys, all the time through that scary experience I thought I would be getting a ride back, not to be, with that big tin of ointment, the bandages I had to back track myself, I sorted the wounds out with the ointment and bandaged up his hands. His brother was unable to help. During the night I could hear him moaning, next morning we traveled to another town 20 or 30 kilometres away in an old Prefect ute with me in the back of the ute, the brothers in the front. We left him in hospital and went back to finish our weeks work. At the end of the week we picked him up from the hospital and headed home.
In the photos above shows my father pulling a salmon out of a deep gutter on what we call the Big Beach at Augusta, in the other photo my father is standing in front of Paddy's camp, the fish he is holding in his left hand is called a soapy which is a small Mulloway, in his right hand is a school shark, on the scaling bench there are 2or3 taylor. In the backround you can see what Turner Caravan Park used to look like before they opened it up and turned it into what it is today.
My father was a very keen and accomplished fisherman, so keen that sometimes when he was afternoon shift in the underground coal mines of Collie where he had served close to 35 years, after he knocked off work he would with his best mate drive down to Augusta, they would get in the old bondwood boat and row across to the opposite side of the rivermouth, they would walk to what they call Bessy's reef, a distance of between 3to5 kilometres they would fish their way back in the gutters and holes that once used to form along this beach. He told me on some of these trips that they would choose the best of the fish releasing the others. And it was a battle to carry them back, my father always believed never to waste anything he shot or caught. Many times he would give other people feeds of whatever he had.
The stories are endless to my fathers achievements in hunting ,( kangaroos, rabbits,water rats,) he targeted these animals for their skins, the first two for their meat . The kangaroos he supplied to the local Petmeat shop in Collie. He had also designed his chook shed, pigeon shed and garage made from weatherboards so he could peg the kangaroo skins to dry, when he had a certain amount he would take them down to the railway station and send them off to the city which was about 250kilometres from our town. All the sheds and fences would be lined with kangaroo skins, that while drying out would have little dry bubbles and we were allowed to bust these, and strip the dry flesh from the skins, which made them more presentable.
We hunted the kangaroos in different ways, the main way of hunting was at nighttime with a spotlight, standing in the back of a ute, we would hunt until all hours of the morning. Some nights we would shoot 15to20 roos. The other way he would hunt was with the dogs. He had many kangaroo dogs in his time, but I think there was no better dog than his last dog NIPPER , for Nipper done things you would have had to see to be believed, because Nipper was brought up a one man dog . My father did not like to hunt him with other dogs. My father would take Nipper with him when he went out into the bush to cut firewood for his customers, remembering the Powersaw would take up all the room so Nipper would travel in the front, sometimes when I was with him the dog would sit in the middle between us, driving through the bush tracks when the bends in the road went to the right NIPPER would lean over in front of me and block my view for he wanted to see what was around the bend.
For instance a kangaroo, then when the bend in the road went left he would lean over and cut my fathers view, jokingly he would say you silly mongrel and push him away with a big smile on his face. My father told me a story one time about Nipper, my father had pulled up at a big dead tree which he was going to fall, he unloaded the big Powersaw which took some manouvering, fell the big tree with Nipper sitting in the front of the ute with the doors closed, for fear of falling the tree on him. Then he would open the door and let Nipper out and precede to cut the tree into foot lengths, this would take a considerable time he would then split the rings of wood and fill his ute.
This particular day he's been there maybe an hour, while he was cutting a ring off the log with the big powersaw which made a hell of a noise while cutting, when Nipper started to rub against his legs like a dog does when he wants a bit of a smooch, this was a common occurence between Nipper and dad, remembering that dad sold the firewood and the kangaroo meat to make life a little easier, for there was seven mouths to feed in our family, one dog and a cat. Dad cut the motor to the saw knowing what was in store and the brilliance of his dog he walked over to the ute put on his hunting belt and knife he turned to Nipper and said SHOW ME, Nipper then started to walk off into the bush with Dad following, he would say every 1or 2hundred yards or whatever show me, he did'nt have to repeat this for Nipper knew what he was doing, I feel dad only said that to make the bond between them stronger. Also Nipper would stay within range which was maybe only 5or10 yards, many kangaroo dogs would return to the kill to fast all because the owner would be running with the dogs saying show me, the dogs would get to much leeway and in thick bush the owner would lose sight of the dog and have to whistle him back and start all over again.
This particular day when Nipper was showing Dad where he had killed a big male kangaroo, for Nipper was the true Boomer dog, Dad took the top quarter off this big male kangaroo from the third rib, he then preceded to put the hind quarter onto his shoulders with a leg either side of his head, and the tail hanging down his back. But when he started to head back to the car which would have been quite some distance, Nipper started to rub into his legs again and acting like he wanted dads attention, dad then realised what Nipper wanted, he placed the hindquarter back onto the ground and said show me and the dog repeated what he had just done by taking dad off into the distance and showing him his second kill.
Tommy Tucker was known to my family by the name of ( GORK) I presume his nickname.
Gork is standing in the middle with hands on hips in the photo. He lived next door to my mother when she was growing up, Gork was a keen gardener and supplied my moms family after her Dad passed away, with many types of vegetables, in return each day at 5o'clock my mother recalls passing a big plate of whatever her mother cooked for Gorks evening meal. My mother in her late teens married my father. Gork had two humpies on his block of land, he then let Mum and Dad stay in one of the humpies, Mum was'nt to sure but she thinks roughly 2 or 3 years, until they then brought a house of their own. Roughly 100 metres from Tommy Tuckers house, still my Mothers house today. Gork moved to a bush block roughly ten kilometres West of Collie, as the crow flies. I'l tell you more of Tommy Tucker for in his old age my Father returned the favor and Tommy Tucker passed away living in our house. Both my mother and father idolised him.
Paddy always fished with a hand-line made from a jam tin with a sock pulled over it with a knot on the end, also they used to use a small pine tree cut into 12 inch lengths with a sock over it. They would cut the sock and nail it to the end. When they arrived at Flat Rock Paddy attempts to throw his hand-line in, but manages to clear the rock. My father might have put this different but I believe on a windy day I could have pee'd further. But as sometimes happens Paddy's line takes off instantly, he had hooked a Mulloway, which he lands. I can see the big smile on Paddy's face and a bigger one on my fathers.
The photo below shows roughly the size of the Mulloway Paddy would have caught. The fellow holding the two Mulloway is the 14 year old who was fishing with Paddy in his old boat when the big Mulloway caught the whiting, the mouth of the river has changed over the years many times, it has shifted further south than my hairline. There will be many more photo's and stories of fishing and diving.
|The photo on top is my old friend Bill, my wife sitting in the back round. The photo below is of Bill and his brother Jack.|
I was talking to an old friend of mine and his brother in-law, they were in their 80's. the conversation got around to hunting kangaroos, I bought up the name of Skin Laurie, my friends brother in-law said how do you know that man. I told him that my father was good friends with him and that they hunted together. He then told me that Skin Laurie would build up his tally of dry roo skins, bring them into town and sell them. Then he would go on a bender, which was drinking every day until his money would run out. Then back out the bush and do it again. While the old fellow was telling me this, he starts laughing because Skin Laurie had to pass by his house on his way home (drunk). Singing a little ditty (I've got your bucket Mrs Huckit and I'm going to f!!!!ng chuck it.) I will tell you more on my dear friend Bill Phease and his life. For he was to me as Paddy and Tommy Tucker were to my father.
My earliest memories of the rivers with my father, is of a time lying on a bank with my mother on a blanket and looking at my father fishing with the same bamboo poles as the photo above. I remember him taking my hand and walking over to the old abandoned bridge, where his bamboo pole was in the water. He lifts the pole and tells me to watch the water, a big marron or( freshwater crayfish) starts to come out of the water with the fishing hook lodged in him, I can see it flicking on the old bridge. Also the little gilgy he was using for bait to catch perch.
Also I remember my father taking the family out to a big pool on the river, north of Collie a couple of kilometers down the river from where the Harris ran into the East branch, the pool was called Pembers Pool, my mother told me her father would take her out there with her brothers and sisters in a horse and cart. There was two diving boards, one at the tail end of the pool where the younger ones could dive and swim, further back along the river was a bigger diving board, alongside of it was a swing hanging from a big tree limb over the water. I remember we used to throw what we called the bluebottle, it was a clear glass bottle full of water with conties crystals in it, which turned the water blue.
This river system and the other rivers were that clear my father would throw the bluebottle in the middle of the pool, it was a race to see who could find it first, we would open our eyes under water and you could see the bluebottle quite clearly and a big marron would flick off the bottom now and then. My mother told me when she was big enough or old enough, she would swim about 50 yards up the river, it was hard to find but there was a big rock beneath the water, three or four people could stand on it. I will tell you more on this rock. When I became old enough to dive for marron, I couldn't wait to get to the rock.
A half a dozen of us had walked through the bush to Pembers Pool, we were running and diving off the small board, if you dived to the right you could glide in and stand, if you dived forward it was deep water. An instance I look back at still scares me, I remember this day very clearly, I was standing away from the rivers edge, the shade had come across from the trees and I was trying to find the sun to warm up, I remember having my back to the river, the boys were laughing and looking into the water, when I looked I could see the fingers and half his hands, he had jumped forward and could not swim. I dived in and he was on the bottom. I remember him wrapping his arms around my head and shoulders, I was wrestling with him, being a bit older and stronger, I remember having my feet on the bottom of the river and kicking myself and him to the bank. We sat in the sun and I remember the terrified look on his face. We laughed it off, it scares me more today than at the time.
Some of my best mates were aborigines, they would call for me to go to primary school, for I never made it to High school. All our life we have joked about this, Brylcream was a brand of hair-oil, we would lather our hair the four of us, James Cockie (alias Jumbo)(deceased) Dougie Mears and his half brother Davey Ugle(deceased). I can still see it running down our foreheads when the sun hit it, and gale force winds wouldn't move a hair.
My father never placed any restrictions on me, or my brothers, I also can't remember my father ever lifting a finger to any of us, and we must have given him reason once or twice. We always had 1-2 kangaroo hindquarters hanging in the shed, I remember cutting a slab of meat off, taking it inside and frying it in a fry-pan on the wood stove. 2 slices of bread and it was a steak sandwich. On many weekends, over 3or4 years I would cut a dozen or 15 lumps of kangaroo meat, wrap them up in newspaper, then place them in a hessian sugar bag, with some string and snare-wire. I would leave early in the morning, maybe 6or7o'clock, have a bowl of Weeties, then walk out to the Aboriginal Reserve, sometimes half a dozen or 8 of them, we would walk out to Pembers Pool through the bush. Their ages varied from 12-16. Jumbo and myself were the same age about 13, Dougie 2yrs older and Davey a couple of years younger.
This particular day they were all acting a little bit silly, they all had beanies or hats on, we get out to the Pool, put a half a dozen roo baits on string in the water, we'd gather all the wood and light a fire, go around the baits and would snare as bigger marron as you would get in the rivers. We would put them in the coals on the edge of the fire, and turn them over with a stick, also we would cook the other lumps of roo meat on the end of a green stick and sit there and gorge ourselves. Also a packet of cigarettes. The aborigines would say!!! dees here filter tip numeries unnah!!! As the day got hotter it was time to have a swim, I can hear them arguing who was going to take their hat or beanie off first, they agreed on the count of three to take them off and jump in, I can hear them laughing and me as well, for they were as bald as Yul Brynner in The King and I and myself in later years. I believe head lice were going around the school. I can't recall ever having head lice myself. Not like today it's in plague proportion, maybe the Brylcream stopped them from getting to me. I will tell you more stories of Jumbo, Dougie and Dave and many more aboriginals I befriended.
The photo above shows my mother in the doorway at the old house, my father sitting with his first Grandaughter Julie on his lap, who was as close to him as Nipper. The dog and the cat would work together to gain access to the kitchen, generally when we were sitting at the table, the cat would paw at the bottom of the fly-wire door, it had a latch but it would allow Nipper to get his nose behind the door, he'd give it a flick and they would both walk in. Nipper would just sit there he knew not to move around or mum would put him outside. My father would get a milk arrowroot biscuit, balance it on top of Nipper's nose, the dog would not move, he'd then flick his head to one side and back to grab the biscuit, I don't think it dropped an inch.
Nipper was a half breed Staghound and short hair kangaroo dog cross. We have watched Nipper many many times over the years, his method to bring the big boomer down at top speed, he would grab the tail and push forward, the boomer would sommersault along the ground. Nipper would be all over the top of it like a lion with his prey, if he got hold of the neck he would kill it in seconds. We have seen him break the neck with his head shakes, but if he missed the neck while they were on the ground the boomer would get to his feet and then it was a bail-up. Another method he would use to tip the boomer at speed was to run up alongside him, grab the front arm and give it a tug, which had the same affect as grabbing the tail. I believe if the kangaroo dog used his instincts to kill, not many dogs could go against him.
My father did not believe in a dog fight and I'm the same, but certain circumstances I accepted it. Like when I was about 11or12 I befriended the local baker, in the day's of the horse and cart. He would ask me to come on his rounds with him, standing up on the cart with the reins, it was a good feeling. This allowed him to fill his basket with bread and deliver to a half of dozen houses at a time, he'd return to the cart and fill his basket. This went on until he finished his rounds. The time he saved would allow him to eat his lunch with us at home, mum would make him a cuppa. He was a big young redheaded man, his name was Bob Carpenter, he smoked Rothmans cigarettes and I remember having the reins in my hands and a cigarette in my mouth. Good times!!
Every so often Bob would say to me, can you bring Nipper on the round, because he used to have trouble with dogs attacking his horse, I would say to Nipper "get hold of him ", the dogs would turn to try to make it back to their yard, he'd do the same to them what he would do to a big boomer, he would shake them big time and let them go. For the kangaroo dog will not use his ability to kill. It's a show of strength and the loser will run away. Even in their yard they wouldn't talk back, he was a good dog.
Bob I'd like to think your still going. But I know you used to eat those Rothman cigarettes and their no good. I also remember the times, when you would take us fishing , me and a mate, we would travel 50or60 kilometers to a coastal town Bunbury(it's a city now). I remember filling a baby-bath with big blue-manna crabs. Also we would fish off the big wooden jetty, (abandoned now) unfortunately. This would have cost them millions of tourist dollars over the years.(fools).
The photo on top shows my old friend Bill Phease and his brother Jack with a kangaroo dog. He tells me that they never had a great deal of success. They would not have known the forests or the ways of the kangaroo's like my father. Also a lot of other so called hunters. A lot of them went out for the enjoyment, sitting around a camp fire,telling yarns and some drinking more than others. Also the photo on the right shows a Collie tradition, it shows young fellows with their swags, a tomahawk and a rifle and a marron net. I believe their clothing is of a time not long after the first World War.
One old bushman tells me of a time, when a half a dozen hunters met up with Skin Laurie at his camp, an argument broke out while sitting around the fire drinking. He tells me that Skin Laurie got up and walked into the night, he never returned, the next day they could hear him shooting in the distance. Apparently he'd gone to one of his other camps. An old chap told me once, when Skin Laurie had enough skins for a load, he would put dripping all over his 303 and poke it up a hollow log to stop it from rusting up while he was away. He may have had a hollow log as well, but when I told my father this story, he said that's not right, he told me that Skin Laurie had a triple headed black-boy or(grasstree)in our Political Correct Society. It will always be a black-boy too me.
Remember that a lot of my friends were and still are aborigine's. In stories they refer to us as white fella and we refer to them as blackfella with no bias. I remember an incident one time, I was standing in the bar in our local hotel, playing darts, when I heard some fellows laughing behind me. Davey Ugle had walked in with three or four other aboriginals, he spots me and comes over laughing and say's to me "I've just seen a funny sign" they had been out in the forest, and the sign tells them the name of the road they were on it was "BLACKDICKS RD". I'v seen that sign a hundred times, but it never made me laugh like when Davey told me.
Another time Davey comes up to me in the pub, he could talk with his eyebrows and his eyes also his fists. He looks at me and raises his eyebrow and looks towards the ground, I knew he was telling me something, when I looked down he had one hand near his pocket with a twenty dollar note in it, I said I'm right Davey, he insisted, I give him a friendly poke in the ribs and said thanks all the same mate. Another time I had give Davey ten dollars and I hadn't seen him for a few months, he might have been in the big house. When I caught up with him next, he hands me ten dollars, maybe I shouldn't have taken it I had forgotten about it. I'll tell you more stories in the pubs about Davey and Dougy and a few other aborigines that were mates.
The above photo shows an old railway bridge, going over a creek. It leads to an old bush settlement a couple of hundreds yards further on. By the signs I seen, maybe there was 10 or 15 families living here, only guessing. But there was 100's of plonk bottles, where they had thrown them into the creek. It looked like they had washed down in the winter waters and imbedded themselves into the banks of the creek, maybe thrown in by kids.
Also in the other photo you can see an old enamel pot nailed to the stump. A very severe and out of control fire, swept through here in 2006 and you can see the burnt remains of what would have been a platform at the base of the stump. Where an old bushie may have cut up meat or tied up bundles of vegetables. He then would have got a hook out of the enamel pot and hang whatever he had in the cellar in the background. It was lined with sleepers, the walls and the roof. But the fire destroyed it. I first found this settlement in 1966, the cellar was untouched, this was roughly 80 kilometres from Collie.
Big mobs of feral pigs roamed this area. Around the same time I was travelling along an old bush track closer to Collie, I came onto an old man, he was a beekeeper, he had maybe 30-40 beehives which were about 30yards off the track. I also had a good mate with me, Bobby Harrison, he served in the navy in World War II, on a battleship called The "Shropshire", records show it survived 126 Kamakasi attacks.
We pulled up and the old man came over to us, as he got closer I could see he was covered in bees. I told the old man that I wasn't being rude, but I was going to wind my window up, he laughed and he said they will go back in a minute, he'd been sorting the honey. We watched and they done just what he said. I wound the window down and told him that I would sooner meet up with a tiger snake, than a bee hive.
We sat there talking to the old man for maybe an hour, he asked us if we liked honey, we said we did. He asked us then if we had anything to put honey in. We said we had a thermos with hot soup in it, and that we would tip it out, he said not to do that and he walked back to were he was sorting the honey, he returned with a 2 gallon bucket full . He said do you come out here very often, I told him I was out there 2 or 3 times a week and most weekends. Well he said you can put the bucket where I sort the honey, jokingly I said, I will throw it from where we are and where it lands is where it will be. He laughed and said that's ok.
During a conversation we had with him, he said do you follow the old formations when your hunting, I said I believe I've travelled every formation hundreds of times and I have especially in later years. He then tells me he was a guard on the trains that travelled those formations. He said he remembered throwing stones from the guards van as the train went over a railway bridge across the Harris River. It was called The Edwards formation. I more than likely told him, I can't remember, but I used to throw my minnow nets off the same railway bridge. (History gone)
The top photo shows the Roney family on an old motorbike, also a kangaroo across the fuel tank. They were among the best of the Kangaroo hunters. Their names were Dick Roney & Cock Roney. Dick is shown on the motorbike with a couple of his kids. The photo below shows Cock Roney on the right in 1930or32. They had very little schooling and they tell me they had trouble reading, writing and spelling, many bush people likewise. This caused one or two problems for the brothers.( deceased now)
My family have known their family all our lives. My mother went to school and grew up with the Roney's. I remember one time, sitting in the carpark at the supermarket while my wife was shopping. I noticed Dick walking back to his car, I called his name, he turned and looked and then walked over to me, it had been a long time since I had spoke to him. He stood alongside my car looking at me and he said "I don't know you boy", I said my fathers name Wilfred Gillard, he then said, " ooh he was a good boomer hunter",( remember boomer was the name for a big male kangaroo.)
We started to talk about the past, he then said "there's been a lot of water go under the bridge", a saying you don't hear today. I said your getting a bit long in the tooth Dick, he agreed, I asked him how old he was, he was looking at me then looked away, he looked to the ground and then to the clouds. I remembered talk about their very little schooling. I said your not to sure Dick, he knew how to get out of the situation, he said I was born in 1914, so I said your 82 Dick, he said is that how it works out. He laughed and said "I had very little schooling boy."
He told of a time he was driving along the highway he was coming home, when he saw a fruit and vegetable stand along side a farmers gate, the sign said self service and the prices of each individual fruit and vegetable's. Dick said he wanted to take some home for the family, but because of his poor schooling he chose the fruit and veg's he wanted and he had to walk maybe a kilometer to where the farmer was working, the farmer told him how much money to leave in the tin.
I told Dick that my schooling wasn't the best and I had left in Primary School. I don't believe anybody hated school as much as me. The first two years weren't too bad, then I had three bad teachers, the first was a male and I know he got off on hitting with a wooden slat, it was about 15inches long, 2inches wide and 1inch thick. This was a cane to him, and it jarred the bones in your hands when he hit you. I don"t believe we were bad kids, you only had to talk to warrant this. I remember all those years ago, waiting for the next year to get away from (him).
But like they say from the pan to the fire, for the next one was a big lump of a woman and looking back I believe she had a grudge on the world. While she was using the wooden duster to clean the blackboard, she would have her back to the class and if someone made a noise or spoke, she would spin around and the first one she seen moved, she would throw the duster as hard as she could at them. Everyone would duck because she could miss by the width of the room. I don't think "it" ever married.
That year finally ended and I thought maybe this year we would get a good one, but not to be, she was a little old lady that I can't remember ever smiling. So I seemed to lose interest in learning and couldn't wait for the end of my Primary School years, the last two years I had two very good teachers. My last teacher was the best of them all, but too late for me to learn. He was a smoker and I remember him giving me a note to go to the local deli, at the edge of the school for a packet of smokes. This was 50 years ago and I remember him saying as I got to the door, "don't open the smokes Jock". I know why he said this, because one Friday which was sports day, I went over to him and asked him to hold some money for me, as I put it in his hand, he smiled and said "Jock you do something about that niccotine on your fingers".
At the end of my last year, I had no intentions of going to High School. Luck was on my side, I told Dick Roney that his son Don had come around to my fathers place and asked him if I was interested in going to work for him, he was a professional Roo shooter, I could see my escape from High School. In those days you had to have permission from your teacher to leave school. I can remember walking into the classroom with my Mother and her telling him that I wanted to leave school. He asked me what I was going to do, I told him I was going Roo shooting for a living, I can see him shake his head and he told me that I would do that for maybe 12 months and then I would end up in the Timber Mills, he was right. But because of that I met up with many old bushman, and a way of life that if I was to have my time again I would not change it. The teachers name was John Flemming, he would be in his late seventies and I hope he's had as good as life as I have.
This photo shows a bush camp of a Mr Dowdell and his son, which was another way of hunting kangaroo's, on horseback and kangaroo dogs.
I was told by many old bushmen about Cock Roney, they say he used to ride his pushbike about 20 kms through the bush to a timber-mill were he worked, he would finish his day's work in the mill, then ride another 4 or 5 kms to a farm, where he would slaughter sheep and cows for the farmer, they say he was as deadly with a knife as he was with a gun.
Remembering the Roney's poor schooling, if the farmer was not at home, he could not leave him a note, so the farmer would hang maybe 15 single hooks, which told Cock he was to slaughter 15 sheep.Also he would hang 3 gambles which would also tell him to kill 3 cows. (One old bushman said if the farmer forgot to leave the hooks and gambles out, he would kill every sheep and cow on the property.)(just joking). Cock would then ride home on his pushbike, not enough daylight in a day. They were tough men.
They say he never trusted the banks, and he had his money hid in different locations in tins, throughout the bush. His son Barry told me a story, Cock was going to buy the latest model car, the salesman came out to his home in the bush, they wrote out all the particulars, he said to Cock you can come into the office on Monday and we will go to the bank and get the money and sign the deal. Cock say's no I won't do that. They say he walked outside and when he returned in about 20mins he had cash money for the car.
Another story was a friend of Cock's called into his house on a Sunday and told him he had an opportunity of buying a car off a fella that was leaving town that day, and the banks weren't open. He must have been a good friend, Cock said you wait here, remember the house is in the middle of the forest, again he returns in 20mins, with the cash money. Rumour has it that some of his stash is still out there.
These old bushman were as honest as the day is long. But then there were some you had to take with a bit of salt, for they would not let the truth stand in the way of a good story. I remember an old fella looking out the corner of his eye at me and I thought what are you coming up with now,he said I know how the Roney boy's got their nickname again I shook my head and said how. He said their Grandmother only had one arm, and that's how she got them out of the bath.
The best story teller I have ever heard. We lived back to back with a lane-way between us. There was four boy's in our family and one girl. I don't believe we ever give them reason to complain. She was a very quiet lady who went to church every Sunday. Bill was a gentleman and a family man. He once said to me that Mrs Kelly would not have let Ned knock around with the Gillard boy's. Another old bushman told me that Bill Woods once told him that he was the smartest man in our town, he said how do you work that out, Bill said I made friends with the Gillard boy's. He could tell you the funniest story you had heard, you'd have tears in your eye's, Bill would not crack a grin and he'd just look at you and that would kill me. I always said that if Bill Woods smiled, he was hysterical.
He told me a story that he was standing at the bar in the hotel having a beer, when he heard the door open, when he looked he said it was a stranger.A big man and he walked up alongside of Bill and ordered a beer. Bill said he'd never seen a nose on a man like that, he told me he had a couple of little looks at it out the corner of his eye, after a few beers they started talking, when all of a sudden the big man sneezes, he went for his hanky, Bill said do you want me to use my hanky it's closer to me.
Many years have passed now Bill and his wife are deceased, but I remember when Bill was very sick with Cancer. On the good day's they would sit him down in his garden on his chair. I lived up the road from Bill and as I was driving passed in my car, I would see him, I would pull up and go in and sit along side him, he loved to talk about the old day's in the bush. When he used to go out and camp with Skin Laurie, also of times when the Cricket or Football teams would travel about 40kms into the forest by horse and cart, to play the other bush Settlements, Tullanulla maybe Treesville and Hoffmans. They had more of a social life than they do today, different Settlements would hold dance nights on weekends and the only way they got to know what was happening in other Settlements and towns was word of mouth while they were socializing. No papers, tv or radio.
The photo above shows their only transport. The little fellow sitting with his feet over the rails is Bill Woods with his mother, brothers and sisters.
The next photo shows I imagine another way they entertained themselves while socializing in the bush a fancy dress-up. The girl on the right is Bill's sister Ivy and standing next to her is Bill's brother Lou.
The kids are dressed up as a Chef, Cricketer, Millionaire, Thief and Servant.
The photo was taken by Gus Trautman, who's son Ted is second from the left. Photo taken in the 1920's.
I remember driving around the boundary on the outside and it was just starting to break day and I was opposite where this photo was taken. I could just make out some pig diggings close to the boundary. I hopped out of the car and walked into the paddock to see if the diggings were fresh but they weren't. Looking further into the paddocks I could see some more dark patches on the ground so I also checked that.
Then right up close to the house I could see what I thought was pig diggings also. I was standing there looking at them and I heard the door of the house slam. I never used to tell Henry I was coming out I would just show up. Visibility was still poor, when I looks over Henry was walking towards the shearing shed. I told my dogs to sit and with a real deep voice I said "HELLO HENRY". He stopped in his tracks, he didn't have a clue where it came from.
Remember he has no neighbors within 30-40klms. Then he decides to continue. Again with a deep voice I said "YOUR NOT TALKING HENRY", and stops in his tracks again, he turns and looks back at the house, then runs his eye's around in a circle and again he doesn't pick me up. Then sets off again. I said "WHERE YA GOING HENRY", but he's ready for it, his ears are zeroed in and he looks straight towards me.
There seemed to be a pause, maybe he thought he was seeing things. He said something along the lines of "you dopey black up never come down bastard", then" you prick of a thing". I HAD A FEW DRINKS LAST NIGHT and I thought it had caught up with me. He was going to cut up a couple of sheep he had dressed the night before.
This is a photo of Henry's wife with a pet kangaroo also a big male kangaroo and a kangaroo dog and just looking at him you can see he is a top dog. I'm only guessing, but I would say that Lady descends from him.
I remember when I was working in the underground coal mines and one of the bosses or deputy who was a friend of mine and lived a couple of houses over from me. He loved his spearfishing and also liked to come out on a pig hunt now and then. His name was Bobby Hughes (now deceased) and this is one of those hunts you never forget.
I had pulled up at the front gate of Henry's property. There was a creek that ran out into the bush. The outside boundary road went across it. The soil was very clayey and would bog a duck in the winter. But as the summer starts to set in, the pigs would make their wallows there. I said to Bobby "we'll walk down and check the wallows" and they had been there big time. You could even see the imprint of the hairs in the clay from their body.
I only had the one dog with me and his name was Buller, I had named him after his great grandfather, the American Pitbull. I said to Bobby "these signs are real fresh". I like to stir my dogs up, I said "check it out". You don't have to say this, their in top gear all the time. He picks up speed with his head to the ground, he disappears into the bush. Then we see him come out back into the creek. Then I said "where is he". We watched him go down to the creek and disappear.
This dog is as deadly as they come with scent coming in on the wind. I can't remember maybe there was no wind or the pigs can be down wind from where we are. So he's running around trying to get a line off the ground. Many times I have watched this in open country. Especially when I have taken the first pig off them.
They will take off straight away and they will chuck a big loop maybe 3-400yrds out and I've watched them hit the scent and head for one of the pigs that are trying to get away. Buller hasn't come back for awhile and I said to Bobby these are all big pigs and there's a real big boar, so I'm going to run back to the car and get the rifle.
Half way back I hear buller start to bark, when I returned with the rifle to Bobby, he said I've heard him bark a few times but then he stops. I said to Bobby he's either got the big boar or more than one pig. They'll stay out wide and it's as though they don't want to stir them up too much. I think they know I'll turn up with the gun. As we were getting closer I heard him bark and then stop. When I looked up Buller was coming to me. I said to Bobby you climb up a tree, there might be trouble here. I said to the dog "get hold of him", and he runs over to a big hollow- butt tree.
Both Bobby and myself were watching this happen. He gets about ten yards from it and the big boar comes out and puts in after the dog. This is why I told Bobby to get up a tree because Buller came straight to me with the big boar right behind him. I've got him in the sights all the time, but he turns quick and heads back to the hollow-butt tree. I said to Bob he knows he's got the dog beat one on one. But I'll bang him next time. I said to the dog "get hold of him" and he goes back to the boar.
The same thing, he comes out after him again and straight towards me. I've got the telescopic sights on his head. I don't normally pull the trigger unless I am sure, but I knew I had room for error, this boar would not get away from Buller. So I pulled the trigger while he was on the run. I hit the head but not good enough, he turned and headed straight back for the hollow tree as fast as he could.
The opening of the hollow-butt was on the opposite side and we could not see him. Buller's right at the tree barking but he won't come out. I said Bob get out of the tree and we'll sneak through the bush to the opposite side and you can watch me shoot him.
We get's to about 30yrds and when we looks inside the big hollow-butt. We were looking at the big boar which was between 200-250lb, also a boar about 150lb, a big sow which was pushing 200lb and another sow a bit over 100lb. The next shot hits the big boar on target and he doesn't close his eye's dead on his feet.
The pigs came out of the hollow-butt not too sure what to do. Bullers barking at all three of them, the boar runs off to the right. I yelled and he stopped, I also hit the spot on this one he didn't know he was dead. Buller was one of the smartest grabbers I have ever seen.
The odds have evened up a bit. He grabs the biggest sow by the ear and I've got her by the back legs. Buller is instantly onto the other sow, so we've got both sows tied up alive. By the time I bleeds and gut the boars, it's all but dark. I said "Bob we've got troubles we haven't got time to carry the smallest out before dark". I said "we'll head home and I'll get a few blokes to give us hand". On our way in I said "there might be an easier way out of this".
Henry Martin wasn't living on the farm, he'd retired and was living on the coast, which was maybe 70-80klms away. His son Neil had taken over the farm and was living in town, because there was no power connected to the farm and he had a Real-estate business and relied on the phone.
So I rang Henry and told him the situation I was in. He said I will be there within the hour and we will go out through the back gate with the tractor and the carry-all which again is a platform that lifts up and down. Henry knew the bush like the back of his hand, he even knew that pig camp and said that there was a big hollow log they used as well. He took us straight to it in the night.
When we returns to the paddock. He said we'll light up a big black-boy and we'll get warm. Also he said I've got a carton of beer here and we'll drink it. Like they say in Australia he's known to have a drink on a hot day, you can add a cold night to that as well.
Bobby has dived a lot along our south coast on the hooker and no doubt has caught as many a jumbo cray as the next fella also Dew-fish and Blue Groper. But he said this night will rank with all the good times.
This photo shows you a close up of the roof of the tunnel where the miners work. The weight is that bad, you can see the big splits and fractures, also the extra props and cross-bars or carrying-bars the miners have to put there to protect themselves. The height of the roof varies in different sections of the mine. The legs or props that support the roof, can be ten feet long , the miners carry these on their shoulder and they're quite heavy. Also they are carrying them on the uneven floor of the tunnel and sometimes in 6 inches of water. So you can see the potential for injury, even so the over-all feelings among the miners was good, always playing tricks on each other and if you were in a good crew you would enjoy working underground.
I remember one time, I was late getting into the crib cabin, which is where the miners have their lunch. Sometimes they would turn the belts off that carry the coal to the surface so they could have their lunch in peace. It becomes so eerie quiet that you can hear a mouse run. As I was almost at the crib cabin, I heard a cry for help further up the tunnels, so I walked up to see what was wrong. Remember it is blacker than midnight and I'm walking with a small beam of light from my helmet, which you shine on the ground in front of you so you don't stand on any lumps of coal or uneven ground.
When I lift my light up so I could see up a side tunnel or better known as a cut-through, there was a miner who was a belt-man and his job was to make sure if the belt stopped running, he was to turn the tray-line off immediately or it would keep loading coal onto the belt that was stopped. I've seen it where the miners had to shovel it back on and they aren't happy. Also if the steel chain that drags the coal away from the miners breaks and the belt-man does not see it, it will finish up on the big belts that takes the coal to the surface and cause a loss in production.
When I got to this fella, the miners had tied him up to a prop or leg that supports the roof. They had put his arms around the back of the leg and tied his wrists together with what they call a shot-firing cable, which is maybe 50yards long and they had wrapped it around him from his toes to his head. He said "help me Jock", I said " why have they done this to you". He said "the chain broke and I run 20 pans of chain onto the belt". This is a major operation. The miners told him it was a record as they were tying him up. As I walked away I said "you deserve what they have done to you and you can stay there" and he said "please Jock" so I untied him. It was all done in good humour.There were no boundary's to the games or tricks these miners would play and it did not matter if you were a belt-man or a mine manager, you were fair game. One story I heard, was a main belt under-ground had broken and the rules were that there had to be a carpenter , fitter or a deputy with a miner to join the belt back up. Which was a bit silly because a belt-man and a miner could join this belt if he was experienced. Because sometimes the deputy could not be contacted also the fitter or the carpenter. Loss of Production.
This particular time the miner could not contact anybody on the phone that connected one section to the other, where they might be. So he rings the surface and tells them, that a belt has snapped and they require a fitter or a carpenter immediately. So one is sent from the surface after waiting for quite some time, no-one has turned up. The miners are getting pissed off, they want to finish their quota quick and head for the crib cabin and finish the shift playing cards or dominos. The miners were real keen on their games. They say that a new starter in the mines, had to go to the Doctors for a medical and if he said to the Doctor he couldn't play cards or dominos, he would fail his medical.
Anyhow no-one has turned up and he rings the surface again and he say's what are you idiots doing up there and tells them the carpenter or fitter still hasn't turned up. Also he tells them you could not organize a piss-up in a brewery. The fella on the surface say's "Do you know who your speaking to", the miner say's "no". He said "this is the mine manager" the miner say's "oh" Then he say's "do you know who you are talking to". The manager say's "no" and the miner say's," thats f!!! good" and hangs up.
It's a scene like this that will put a new miner or visitor on edge instantly. I remember a time when a friend of mine, who lived two houses down from me, asked if there was any chance he could go underground with me for a shift. I said that was no problem, I would only have to ask the mine manager and he would ok that everytime. The day comes when I takes him underground. His name is Terry Jewell, I remember when we gets to the mine, they supply him with a helmet also a battery and light. As we were standing around, talking to the different miners and I was introducing Terry. Most of them said, you've picked the wrong fella to go underground with.(meaning me)
Terry was a nervous type at the best of times and I had no intentions of spooking him in any way. But I knew he was in for a hard time from the other miners. We were sitting on a machine called a man-carrier, which seated about ten or twelve miners. It also had a trailer which seated about the same.As we start to go down the tunnel, maybe 50yrds the roof starts to come down low, I told Terry to watch his head or he will knock it on the roof. This is when the visitor is prone to the miner.
One of them sneaks his hand up and smacks Terry on the helmet, he thinks he's had a narrow escape from the roof. He turns his head and looks up to see how much clearance he's got, another miner strikes him from the other side and he goes even lower, then another one slaps him. Now he's got his head between his legs and he's not game to see how low the roof is. A bit further along the tunnel the roof will rise again, all the miners are now sitting upright and Terry has still got his head between his legs. The miners will keep slapping his helmet and he cannot work out why the miners are sitting there and he's still hitting his head.
Another thing the road we are travelling on is rough and we are bouncing a bit but Terry is out of control, the miners know to use their hands to brace themselves. Terry told me he had a quick look back behind us and he said if he had seen daylight, he was going to yell out stop. He'd had enough already. When we arrived at the bottom of the mine and we'd got off the man-carrier and we were walking along the tunnel to where we were going to start working. We walks into an old cave-in like you can see in the photo. One of the miners puts his light on the cave-in and say's oh my god!. I'm looking at Terry out the corner of my eye and he's got a terrible look on his face.
I got the miners aside and said "that's enough". I said "you leave him alone now, no more" and they knew I was serious. You wont believe what happens to him, as we were walking up the tunnel to the working face, it was slightly up hill. The air wasn't good in this part of the mine and we had what they call a Blower, which looks like a big barrel with a fan inside it. They run a big vent tube off of the fan up to the working face. Terry was walking a little bit behind me and we were about half-way along the vent tube and one of the miners turned the blower on and the noise it makes when it inflates the vent tube, will scare an experienced miner.
I heard a scream, I looked back out the corner of my eye, not wanting Terry to know that I had heard him, but he was laying down face first in the coal, I think his legs were still trying to run. I didn't stop, I kept walking, I didn't want him to know I'd seen it and embarrass him. When he caught up to me I said " whats going on mate". He said " I thought all the walls were caving in". Even now while the wife and myself are putting this down, we have both gone into fits of laughter, this is a true story. Don't forget five minutes earlier he had just walked away from a cave in. ( Sorry Terry I said I didn't want to embarrass you, now I've told the World.)
The above photo shows Jack at about six weeks and the next photo shows you our oldest grandson Scott with him on the surf-board. Also you can see by the way he's looking into the water, he's enjoying it. He's actually looking for the little mud-skipper fish, darting across the sand. He relates them to lizards in our bush. The water your looking at was about 2 metres from the fence of the house we used to stay in on our holidays in later years. Some days Jack would put in hours, belly deep in the water. His tail going a hundred miles an hour and it looked like he was trying to run pushing a wall of water in front of him. Many campers would sit there and watch him.The above photo shows Jack up a Peppy tree. If I pointed at something and said check it out, he would do just that, no matter what the conditions. He was an absolute killer, sometimes when I returned home with a couple rabbits that I had shot, when I laid them out on the lawn, Jack would kill them again. I can see myself chasing him trying to get my rabbits back. I would give him one of the heads, he would throw it in the air, chase it and play with it for ten minutes. It was as though it made him feel it was his kill, then he'd eat the lot.
He had a habit that I would have liked to have got on video. When I was sitting in my rocker recliner in the evenings watching TV. I could tell when Jack was going into one of his silly moods and he was wanting to kill something. He would strut over towards me and I would stare into his eyes and he would look at me as if to say I dare you to do it again. When he got in range, I would shoot the foot rest out at him as hard as I could, every time he was ready for it and he would lock onto it like an American pit-bull and put in the big death shakes. When he released it, the adrenalin rush that he had got, was so strong his bottom jaw would quiver.
Sometimes the wife would be out in the kitchen, while he was still on a high, I would put my hand over my mouth, he would not take his eye's off mine and I would muffle yell to the wife Call Jack and when she did, he would scream hysterical as he hit top speed going out to the kitchen. The wife said he would slide to a halt, then he would stand there and would not breath, his ears were upright waiting for me to move that rocker recliner. Then he would scream hysterically again. But this time he was going too fast to take the corner coming into the lounge. I've seen him slide, bounce off the wall and then hit that rocker recliner like you wouldn't believe as I pushed it out trying to hit him.
Over a few years he eventually killed it. When I think back it was a silly game because it was comfortable to sit in and I no longer have one. I think the wife was a bit embarrassed when we had visitors, there were bits and pieces missing and I was made to throw it out the dump.
Jack passed away one month after the next photo was taken, we had him for 11 years. Our good friends Maurice & June Hayes gave him to me for my birthday.
I've buried some good dogs over my time and he ranks with them all. I remember when I was taking him out the bush to bury him, I was handling it alright until the wife came out with his blanket and said bury him in this and its hard to talk anymore on this.
I've told stories about my fathers last kangaroo dog Nipper and this is how he came to own him. Dad had a licence to cut fire-wood and he'd go out the bush most mornings if he was after-noon shift in the mines. He always had his rifle and sometimes he would shoot a couple of kangaroos, which he sold to the pet-meat shop. Like I've said before it was another way for making a couple of bob. Also he would cut long props about as thick as your wrist, maybe 10ft long with a fork on the end and he would get a pound or $2's in todays language. They were used as a prop for the clothes-lines, that they had in them days.
Many times while he was driving around the bush tracks, maybe 10klms out from town, he would come onto a pack of dogs. Maybe 15 or more. He would shoot one or two if he was lucky, they were all breeds and all sizes in poor condition. He'd always shoot the mongrel or the poorest, but never the kangaroo dog in among them. He was telling me he shot one this day and then he ran up through the bush a couple of hundred yards and shot another one.
When he came back to his vehicle, there was a three quarters stag-hound roo-dog cross. I just forget if he said she was laying on the front seat or she was under the car, she was in poor condition and foot-sore. So he brought her home with him. I would have been about 10 or 11 at the time and I can see it like it was yesterday when he opened the door of the car and let her out. He said "I found her out the bush". I was that excited I said "can I have her" and he said "yes". We called her Girl and sometimes Lady.
I think why dad said I could have her was six or 12 months earlier, he gave me a little kangaroo dog pup and I called it Bluey and when I came home from school one day, they told me he'd been run over by a truck out the front of the house. I know it broke my heart. I think that's why dad said that Girly was mine. He got her into top condition and she became a good roo-dog. I'm not too sure but I think her best was 7 or 9 roos on the day.
The pack of dogs were coming away from the Aboriginal Reserve and I believe he done them a favour by thinning them out and leaving the good ones. Too many for them to feed. I've said before I had a lot to do with the Noongahs growing up and looking back I regret not asking my father to drop off a couple of kangaroos each week. I know he would have gladly done that. Because at times it wasn't only the dogs that were short of food. Many white families were the same and a lot lived off kangaroo, rabbit and possum. But it was harder for the Noongah, because they never had a vehicle and very little money.
We'd had Girl, for maybe two years. I can't remember this dog myself, dad told me. He was a big powerful short-hair roo-dog and Girl had pups to him and that's where Nipper came from. I remember when the pups were maybe 2 month old. Myself and a couple of mates used to run around the block with the pups chasing us, a distance of about 4-500yrds. Another way we entertained ourselves. We'd also take them for a walk in the bush, which was only a couple of hundred yards from our house at that time.
We'd put hours in walking around, armed with gings or shanghis and I suppose when you add it all up it was it was this type of upbringing that made me become addicted to hunting our forests and rivers. Again thanks to my father also my mother. I've said before I had no restrictions put on me. Many times I would get up at the break of day, have a bowl of Weeties, then head off to one of my mates places. Then it was off to the bush again or the rivers, as long as I was home before dark I was never asked what I'd been up to and I don't believe I ever give my parents reason to be upset with something I'd done.
Dad didn't keep one of the pups, I believe he was thinking of giving up hunting with dogs. He was still hunting a couple of nights a week for the pet-meat shop. The pups went to different people and I don't know who got them. No doubt dad would have told us Nipper was the pick of the litter and a friend of mine at the time talked his mother into taking Nipper for a pet. But when he got to roughly 6 months, he became too much for them to handle and I told my father they didn't want him. He said bring him home and I'll keep him. The best thing he ever done, they became good mates, Nipper died of old age and I've told many stories on him and his ability.
Dad told me another time he had Nipper out the bush with him, cutting fire-wood and like I've said before Nipper would go off and hunt him-self. Then he would return to my father and let him know that he'd killed, then take him back and show where he had killed. Hence the saying with a bushman to his dog (show me).
This day dad had finished cutting fire-wood and Nipper hadn't returned. It was a hot day and he started to worry. Then he added it up that there was a chance that Nipper had killed a big kangaroo and being as hot as it was, he'd gone looking for water. Dad jumped in his car and quickly headed for what was known as a forestry water-hole. They would dig a square hole on the edge of a creek, maybe 10ft by 10ft and they would line it with boards, so the winter waters wouldn't collapse the banks and fill it back up.
Dad said when he pulled up he ran to the water-hole. He said Nipper was clinging with his claws to a crack in the boards. He said "I'd just got there in time". I remember another incident with Nipper. I was maybe 12 or just 13 and I'd gone to the river for a swim with a mate and we were on push-bikes also Nipper. We had to ride maybe a couple of kilometres. This pool had a swing hanging out of a tree also a divey and we'd been there an hour or two. There was quite a few other kids. We decided we'd had enough and we were going to head home.
When I looked to see were Nipper was, he was on the other side of the river. I said to my mate, "we can spook him here", so we took off on our bikes as fast as we could at the same time I whistled him. He panicked he had to go a fair way to get around the bottom of the pool. We got 2-300yards up the road and there's a sharp sweeping left-hand bend and it's uphill. As we start to climb, I looked and there's 3 or 4 girls about our age who we knew. As we get along side of them we were peddling like mad, but being uphill we weren't covering too much ground.
With a startled voice I said to the girls," Don't go down to the river, there's a big kangaroo-dog and he's gone mad, biting everybody." Just then Nipper comes around the bend at top speed and heading straight for the girls. They let out the most mournful screams, then they all started crying. I remember feeling so bad about that as I rode off laughing.
I was about 12 or 13 and I should have got a belting for this and I nearly did. I'd been down the river again marroning and when I got home it was maybe a couple of hours after dark. I'd say my father would have been after-noon shift in the under-ground mines, which might have been a good thing. Although he could see the funny side of things.
I remember walking around the side of the house and as I came into the beam of the light shining out from the kitchen. Mum happened to be looking out through the fly-wire door. She can just make me out, then with a stutter in her voice, she said "what what do you want". I knew mum thought I was an aboriginal. She had no reason to be scared, the noongahs respected our name and we respected the noongah. I couldn't resist it, I said "Hey lady hab you got any old clothes der" as I'm saying this I'm walking to the door to open it. Mums saying "you stay there".
Thinking she'd recognize me I opened the door and walked in, she's still going back-wards, then she realizes and comes at me. It's good to know that your mum will defend herself when push comes to shove and I found out the hard way. She's throwing lefts and rights at my head and the funniest thing was, when she asked me not to block them. (no mum I'll give you a free shot).My mum had a saying, when I used to tease her and stir her up. "you wont get me wild Jimmy Gillard" and I'd remind her of that night.
I remember another incident when I should have had my bum kicked. Dad had built himself a chook-run and I've said before. He designed the chook shed, so he could peg the kangaroo skins out to dry. He had quite a few chooks and it was a big thing in those days, not all the time but some sundays we'd have a roast chook. There were no frozen chooks like today because there were no freezers. He had a big white rooster and he was as mean as you get. If you went in to collect the eggs, it didn't matter who it was the minute you turned your back on it, he attacked.
I remember one day my sister Phyllis screaming, running to the house with the rooster behind her. So I thought I'd square up with him, I climbed the fence and got onto the roof of the chook house with my shanghi or ging as we called them. The big rooster was strutting his stuff and I killed him instantly, with a shot to the head. I remember feeling quite sick, I'd killed my dads rooster with a ging that he'd made me. It was summer and very hot. I jumped off the roof and into the chook yard, picked him up and carried him over to the water bowl, laid him next to it with his beak just touching the water.
Rigor-mortis set in and a half a day past and he hasn't moved. I was in the back-yard with mum and she said "it must be hot today, that rooster hasn't moved from the water bowl for a long time". It was many years later when I owned up.
Like I've said before my stories I've been telling are the truth, well 99.9% of them. But this one had nothing to do with me. I was talking to an old bushy one day and somehow the subject got onto bad teeth. I told him of an experience I had one time. I'd knocked off work and when I got home I walked into the kitchen, it was close to tea time. The wife had cooked a roast chicken. I've always been partial to the parsons nose or the last bit of the chook that goes over the fence as he jumps it, so I pulls it off the chook and as I went to crunch it up, one of my back teeth had a bad hole. It was that bad that the bone went down through the hole and almost blew my head off.
This is true, I didn't sleep that night. The only way I could relieve the pain a little bit, was to take a mouthful of cold milk and hold it in my mouth for however long. I tried a couple of times during the night to see if I could resist it, but I couldn't. The next morning I got in touch with two of the local dentists. I think one of them wasn't home and the other one wouldn't have anything to do with it on a Sunday. I called into my fathers place, told him how bad it was. He said well ring around and we got in touch with an old fella in Bunbury. He said to come down straight away and he'd sort it out.
I remember when I walked into his little surgery. Everything looked as old as him. I thought I'm in trouble. Not so much that everything was old, there wasn't much left of the tooth that he could get hold of. I said to him, "I'm taking this carton of milk with me when I sit in the chair and when your about to give me the needle, I'll take my last mouthful". He laughed and said "son if that's working you do that". I've never been so pleased to see a needle. He messed around for a little bit, then he walked over to what I think was a sink. I couldn't help but think hello he's got troubles. Then he turned and said "well matey it's all over". I said "what you've finished". I can honestly say I did not feel a thing and I thought of that saying !you don't judge a book by it's cover! He was good at his game.
When I finished telling that story to the old bushman, he said "I had a real bad experience one time myself". Then he said " I'll leave it up to you, to which one of us went through the most pain". He tells me a story about when he was working out in the back-blocks and he was two days from town. He said "my jaw swelled up like you wouldn't believe and it throbbed something bad. Riding that horse into town, I felt every movement through my tooth. I remember walking into his surgery." The dentist said "your not looking too good matey" .I said "I've been to hell and back". He said "hop into the chair and open your mouth".
He looked at me and shook his head and then he said "I'm sorry I can't pull this tooth out, there's a couple of abscesses on it and you could not take the pain you will go through". I said "bullshit, I can take the pain just pull it out". Again he looked at me shaking his head. He said "I'll tell you what I'll do with ya. If you can tell me two times. That you've experienced pain that would equal me pulling this tooth, I will pull it".
So I told him about a time I was working on a rail-way line, in the North-west of Western Australia. It was what they call spinifex country, which is a low shrub about 2- 3ft high. There was a gang of us maybe 8-10 fellas. Nature calls, so I grabbed the toilet roll and I walks off behind the spinifex. I'm in the gun-fighters crouch and one of the smart bastards I'm working with yells out. "I can see ya". So I squatted down a little more. Then they all yelled out "we can still see ya". So I squatted right down and would you believe I've squatted over a dingo trap and it goes off and it's got both me balls. The dentist actually jumped back when I told him and he said "my god, that would certainly equal the pain of pulling this tooth, in fact I will pull the tooth on that alone". Which he did. I paid him and as I was about to walk out the dentist said. "Just as a point of interest what was the second time you experienced that sort of pain". I said "when that f!!king trap ran out of chain."
I'm not too sure if mushrooms come any bigger.If you have seen any bigger let me know in the guest book or send me a photo. The big one was 2lb the other was 1lb and they were tastier than anything you can buy. The two boys are our grandsons, Jaxon (8) on the right and Toby (7).
I was brought up to mushrooms as a young fella through my father and mother. I remember times hunting kangaroo's which we sold to the pet-meat shop and in the mushroom season we would quite often walk on to big patches of mushies. My father would take his hat off and I would run around and fill it. Funny thing was I didn't like eating them when they were cooked, but I'd eat what I could when they were raw.
Even later in life when I was pig hunting or chasing rabbits. If I walked onto a patch of mushrooms I'd squat down and have a feed. Different fellas that were with me would shake their head, I can't remember any of them eating one. Another thing I used to do especially on a saturday when the pub closed and I'd had a good run on the dart board, I'd make my way to a local restaurant. Sometimes the brother-inlaw Pete was with me or big Lofty or my good mate Bobby Carroll. I would always order t-bone steak and mushrooms, Peter was the same.
Mushrooms aren't around like they used to be, they say due to the fertilizers used on the paddocks. All my boys got off on picking mushrooms. I remember times the wife and myself carrying a two gallon bucket each while the boy's ran around with a butter knife slicing off the mushrooms. They'd actually get upset when I'd say there's no more room. They'd say but look at all the mushrooms on the side of the hill. Our youngest boy Craig when he was about 4 or 5 used to say "can we go chasing mushrooms."