This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
George Perkins A SEASON IN NEW SOUTH WALES: ILLUSTRATED EDITION First Encounter Books Copyright George Perkins 2011
A Season in New South Wales was first published by Commonwealth Publications in 1997 Copyright 1996 by George Perkins Second edition copyright 2009 by George Perkins All rights reserved. Revised, Illustrated Edition copyright 2011 by George Perkins. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or givenaway to others.
A Season in New South Wales is a memoir a memoir of time spent in Australia by George and Barbara Perkins and their three daughters while they were teaching American Literature at the University of Newcastle. We remain thankful for the support of a Fulbright Fellowship and a teaching grant from the University of Newcastle. The book is also an attempt to describe Australian literature, history, and culture in a time of significant change. Today¶s Australia is a different country, but in important ways it retains its past. To the birds of the Billabong, And Laura, Suzanne, Alison, Barbara, and Aunt Ky And also to John and Pam Burrows, Maria Mitchell and Robert Mackie, and Dianne and Grant Osland, gracious hosts and warm friends in 1989 and again when we revisitd in 2008.
the Sydney Opera House unfurls its convex white surfaces like sails. Australians count their European presence as half that. North America has passed five hundred years since the arrival of Columbus. between the Opera House and the Bridge. shimmering in sunlight on the Hunter River. read it in the books. the National Geographic magazine. and the broad brown plains of New South Wales. Australia's self-governance within the British Commonwealth came only as the twentieth century began. fashion models. Sydney harbor. like successive shells of a mollosk collection.Contents Arrival The Bush as It Once Was Settling In at Newcastle Eureka Stockade and The Fortunes of Richard Mahony Back and Forth to Sydney Visitors and Visits Excursions into Popular Culture Aborigines North to Byron Bay From Tenterfield to Tamworth Bushrangers and Bullock Drivers Visitors from Home Women's Lot What We Thought of Australia Fossicking in New England Arrival Australia beckons with the strangeness of Koalas and the familiarity of Coca-Cola. It lies just over the next ridge. Standing on Circular Quay. and total independence remains a dream of the future. touch it in the people. To the east. glossy travel brochures. The vast times of the land are foreshortened by recent European presence. much culture is as new as the latest films. You see it in the landscape. and gazing across open water to the hills and sky-scrapers of North Sydney. but none seemed so immediately and historically Australian. blue mountains. On our first day in Australia other destinations were possible. and the United States nears the four hundredth anniversaries of permanent settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth. In a continent older than history. Postcards. Everyone knows the images. novels. . calling from eucalyptus forests. two hundred and one years after Arthur Phillip sailed eleven ships into "the finest harbour in the world. advertisements for Qantas flights at special rates from Los Angeles. We arrived at Sydney Cove in the late afternoon of July 3. 1989. we found ourselves in the place where modern Australia began. In Australia the past is always present. as the earliest settlers arrived barely more than two hundred years ago. and Olympic Games. rising in ghostly forms above white beaches. The United States celebrated the bicentennial of its Declaration of Independence two decades ago." This first governor of New South Wales planted the British flag and unloaded 736 convicts and nearly 300 soldiers and settlers to establish the colony that became Australia. It was a landscape familiar and foreign.
where small pleasure boats. Its steel girders. Beyond it was the city. wombats. reflected in the water. pushed by wind and river currents and diesel engines. famous for its koalas. That was five years before the American revolutionaries at Concord Bridge fired the shot heard round . the trip goes past the Opera House toward the open sea. and then coasted northward along the shore. Barbara. toward the mouth of the harbor. Away from the city center. A few days earlier we burned on the beach in Hawaii. most returning from a day in Sydney. protecting the owners from an ancient menace still feared in these waters. south of Sydney. cliffs fell away from costly dwellings to the water below. The ferry's engines throbbed for us and only a few other passengers. Suzanne. a half-dozen wharves support the ticket booths. We left the wharf with the sun low on the horizon. nineteen. A slightly longer trip across the harbor and further out brings you to the seaside resort of Manly. which from its place on a gently curving peninsula takes possibilities from the harbor and returns to it a solid apparition uniting water and earth. at the city end.60 each way. but for that visit we would want more time than was left on this day. Sydney retains a human scale. Drawn to the water. Between Opera House and Bridge. large ferries. Its last light played against the sails of the Opera House. He did not enter Sydney Harbor. composed of buildings mostly no more than ten or fifteen stories high. where shark cages encircled private swimming areas. and giant container ships crisscross to varied destinations. Sydney slowly winked into speckles of lights. where small brick buildings and cramped streets and alleys speak still of the nineteenth-century and recall the convicts' landing. he sailed the Endeavor into Botany Bay. Across the harbor from the modern Opera House. kangaroos. we might have chosen a ferry to the zoo as our first choice. Circular Quay forms a horseshoe around Sydney Cove. the shoreline rose in hills that continued to catch the rays of the sunset. Following the same quayside walkway to the west. fronting the water or jutting out into it. the Bridge provides a multi-laned automobile link between the center city and the office towers and prosperous suburbs of North Sydney. Built forty-two years before the Opera House took shape as the city's dominant image. for we planned four and a half months in Australia. twenty-one. the Rocks. Soaring above the Rocks is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. art and commerce. but now we donned sweaters and jackets to ward off the cool breeze that came off the water. Midwinter days seem short beyond reason in an Australian July. shining in the high. scarcely a kilometer in a direct line across the water. you come to fashionable restaurants. In 1770. We would be staying through July and August's winter and as far into the spring as November. and platypuses. Darkness fell before the boat bumped against the ferry slip and we stepped down the gangplank onto the pier. Price was no small consideration. my wife. The screws churned white foam behind us as the sky reddened over the bridge and the Rocks. uncluttered windows flashed back the setting sun. With were four: myself. eighteen years before the first convicts arrived. Inside the horseshoe. A walkway follows the quay out to and around the Opera House. as midwinter was off-season for Manly. finding that easier than making their way around the harbor by wheeled transportation. Many Sydney workers commute by ferry. and concrete dwarf and shadow the brick buildings below. and Alison. Just beyond the modern restaurants lies an older neighborhood. the world's largest single-arch span.like a deep-water creature of the harbor emerging to uncoil its pallid concentricities between blue sky and blue water. newsstands. struts. Wide glass windows open on the harbor. with a few sky-scrapers towering above the general level. A short ferry trip across the harbor brings you to the Taronga Park Zoo. and fast-food counters that serve the customers of the many ferries and tour boats that churn the waters and bump against the wooden pilings. but noted the "safe anchorage" and passed on. direct sun. The first European to see the eastern Australian coast was Captain Cook. and two of our children. Landward from the quay lies the central city. Its vertical. Prosperous suburban homes gleamed pink from their hillside perches and clean. white semicircles of the Opera House. and tickets were only $1. Manly seemed a reasonable alternative: the ferry was leaving soon. kookaburras. turnstiles. semicircular steel arch forms a pleasant congruence with the tilted.
" "What? What is it?" Her face frames no panic. "Just a giant cockroach. and will soon vanish into the woodwork. Breast of emu perhaps? Kangaroo cutlets? Fried witchetty grubs? Murphy's Koala Tea? ("The Koala Tea of Murphy is not strained. hotels. when the feminist editor Louisa Lawson lived in Manly.") None of these are listed. Boats and boatyards line the shore at the end of the mile-long beach." A straining lean forward. Imported Norfolk Island pines line the walkway. raita. Governor Phillip named Manly for the "confidence and manly behavior" he found in its natives. located. In 1783 the Peace of Paris confirmed the American right to self-determination and in five more years the settlement of Australia began. sits. Outside the window and across the street we see the sign for the New Brighton Hotel. She watches its rapid disappearance and then leaves the small remainder of her food untouched. a time when seven miles from Sydney seemed much more than it does today a thousand miles from care. The New Brighton is new. and a sharp turn of the head convinces her of the insect's identity.the world. dal. "seven miles from Sydney." ferries were already carrying passengers between Sydney and Manly. Just lean slightly forward. Today. gulab jamun²the menu promises only slight variations from any Indian menu. Today the place wears a patina of age that looks to an American more English than Australian. The city has long served as a seaside playground for the English. bars. It's not heading your way. Tandoori chicken. and on the neck between ocean and cove lies the town of Manly. and restaurants replicate a seaside resort in Cornwall or Devon. the seaside resort of choice for generations of the English at home in the old country. Not long before leaving the United States we heard tales of saucer-sized spiders from a friend recently returned from Australia. away from the ocean. On the other side of the cove is the Pacific Ocean. but once the site of a quarantine station for immigrants suspected of carrying contagious diseases. "Don't jump up Alison. they shoulder one another in cosy familiarity. samosas. "Everything. Rounding the block or two that comprises the tourist center of Manly. and ascend the stairway to its second-floor location. Later we will find Australians thrown into paroxysms of denial when we mention the Englishness of some of their towns. no friend to crawling creatures. At the turn of the century. only in the sense that it is newer than many of the hotels in old Brighton. but some degree of concern. We aren't sure what Australian delicacy we are looking for. we found no Aborigines in Manly. and the food is good. in the same decade that Walt Whitman wrote "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. a strong signal of local aspirations." By 1853. The ferry from Circular Quay arrives in Manly Cove after passing the outlet to the sea and skirting North Head. now mostly Sydney Harbour National Park. The smiling proprietor leads us past empty tables to a small room next to a window where we overlook the empty street. blessed by modes of travel that rapidly leave a spreading metropolis behind. They are not much frequented at this time of year. chapati. Only at the end of the meal does a large cockroach place a small curb upon our appetites. we observe. Small in scale. On the landward side of the street. it is all right. Here the name voices nostalgia for another day. as water passage continued the ages-old domination that placed on the confluence of harbors and rivers most of the great cities of the world. far from the cares she accumulated in Gulgong and Sydney. sir?" . wearing only slightly differing faces of red brick and blue-painted wood. pleasure-seekers can easily reach newer and more fashionable places for sun and surf. acording to a nineteenth-century advertisement. and a thousand miles from care. a twist to the right. Menus framed on doorposts offer fish and chips or steak and kidney pie accompanied by beers and ales with Anglo-Saxon or Celtic names like Foster's or Toohey's. lending sculptured symmetry to a landscape much less formal when Cook and Phillips saw it graced with eucalyptus trees. she must have found relaxation there. pullao. Not long after his arrival. A three-incher. Unlike Captains Cook and Phillip. It appears on the windowsill forming the back of the small banquette where Alison. we select an Indian restaurant on the backside.
The driver navigated the streets with a reckless abandon that kept us with hands on doors. Sydney. outraced street lights and cut off buses. the Anzac Parade marches in stately fashion towards downtown. and we slept into the afternoon before taking a taxi to Circular Quay. seatback. Both drivers were Asian immigrants ("migrants" is the Australian term) and neither spoke much English. our bill seemed reasonable. toast and jam.S." Indeed. The other side of the world still seems closer. we alighted at the hotel to find we had saved $1. a hotel selected for us by the Australian-American Education Foundation. than places with names like Wollongong. limp bacon."Yes. If Manly seemed in some ways not all that far from Devon or Cornwall. Our breakfast. We tried to think in Australian dollars now. juice. and cream. a quiet reminder of the enormous contributions made by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to wars for King and Queen. was solid English fare: coffee or tea. Liverpool. are more common than overpasses. In step with these names of Empire. The Gemini Motor Inn could be mistaken for an English suburban family hotel. we check the prices posted in large figures on the door at the bottom of the stairs and find them much lower than those we paid from the upstairs menu. a few cups. The hotel was $108. no ice cream. The clientele seemed Australians from the country. A cheerful woman with a cardboard sign reading "Professor Perkins" had arisen at 5:30 to drive to the airport. Elizabeth. come to see Sydney. No parades. we had arrived at 7:30 that morning and cleared customs quickly.000 (Australian) to help with initial expenses. The sky is higher and brighter. rented a car for the next morning. King. about six miles from the center of Sydney. There is a King's Cross and a Queen's Square. though. London is 10. welcome us to Australia. Roundabouts. It was just another midwinter Tuesday in Australia. mate" was the appropriate greeting.50 on the meter over the $10. I called Avis.75.000 was not going to last long. Ku-ring-gai. soft drinks. or traffic circles. We stayed at the Gemini Motor Inn in Randwick. he had to follow directions I provided from memory and map as we careened around corners. Because the mad one who drove on our return didn't know our hotel. When we leave. At $148 for room and food. Very good. no picnics by the lake. stewed tomatoes. After a ten-hour flight from Hawaii. present us with a check for $1. currency. Katoomba.00 paid coming out. Motor traffic keeps to the left. and direct us to a the van for the hotel. York. and a refrigerator stocked with juice. . each of theirs worth about seventy-three cents U. certainly.000 miles away. though we were too travel-worn to strike up conversations or consider whether "Good morning" or "G'day. an electric pot for coffee or tea. our initial stipend of $1. sausage links. Bracing ourselves for the crash that never came.04 in U.S. First impressions are of England with palm trees. Our room was large. and the buildings more colorful in the clear morning air. and dashboard to avoid bouncing off one another and bruising ourselves on the door handles. It takes a map and an effort of will to remind oneself that such places lie within a hundred miles of King's Cross and Queen's Square. the stipend $730. at this point. or band concerts. Sydney might be taken in some respects for New York. skyrockets. Streets in Sydney bear names like Oxford. we hailed a taxi and returned to our hotel in about half the time it took to come out. or Ourimbah. There were no firecrackers. furnished with one double and three single beds. eggs. in most ways it was. the car $54. July Fourth. but with the Avis rental set at $75 a day and other major expenses waiting. thank you. and cereal. buffet style. bringing other cars to screeching and cursing halts. Back on Circular Quay.
Chinese. railroad stations. We were on the bridge. But we are lured by names like Ku-ring-gai and . Oxford Street. gas station. for they are aware that the Holden long ago lost its claim upon untarnished Aussie pride.000 seems to stand as a bargain. real estate agencies. High rise and low rise apartment buildings line the roadway. Greater Sydney houses three million Sydneysiders in more than thirty municipalities stretched as far as 30 miles westward from the Harbour Bridge and over 40 miles north to south along the eastern seaboard. it was not yet noon. with an angular grace.000 miles to our northwest. not right). but they feel defeated there. and Japanese restaurants suggest a cosmopolitan life. North Sydney's office buildings. Liverpool and Elizabeth Streets. for Cairns lies 1. banks. Or thought we were. we needed a large car with ample trunk space. Only at street level an occasional individualism breaks through in the windowed entry to a retail establishment. Exteriors are new. Barbara reads the prices affixed to windshields and we conclude gloomily that unless the market is different in Newcastle we may not find a car we can afford to purchase. too. Luxury cars park parallel to small boutiques and in the lots of furniture stores and restaurants. strongly reluctant to assist Japan in its push toward worldwide economic domination. north and south. but large in comparison to Japanese or European imports. Japanese imports have triumphed in the face of fierce resentment harbored from World War II. much closer than it seemed from my unaccustomed driving position on the right. suggesting money in this part of Sydney. No longer do things look as English as they did to eyes that are becoming accustomed to the Australian mixture of home and away. We know the rock lies 2. Indian. Triangular banners of red and white fly over used car lots where "Sale Today" appears to be the dominant message. and banking towers rival those on the south side of the harbor. North Sydney recedes quickly in the rearview mirror. still obsessed with left and right I nearly scraped a railing that loomed suddenly at the car's left side. the Great Australian Desert that begins 2. Coming off the bridge.000 miles directly west. corporate headquarters.Our car was a Holden Commodore. we started a half-dozen miles south of the center. With four people and luggage to transport. and we were on our way to Newcastle. groceries. the Qantas airlines connection for the Great Barrier Reef. Then the roadway fell into place as a mirror image of roads at home. glass. A few parking spaces appear for the first time at street-side. We don't expect to find the roadway disappearing suddenly into the shimmering mirage of the Nullarbor Plain. An air of cleanliness and prosperity infuses businesses. we had yet twenty miles of city driving before we could pick up the highway north. At the bridge. I had similar difficulty getting down to the street (remembering to keep left. It arrived late because the Avis woman who delivered it to the hotel had difficulty rounding the corners on the ramp in the parking garage. $10. Made in Australia. easing the car into traffic (keeping left. finding the Anzac Parade. brick and stucco and red tile roofs. or automobile dealership. But where is the real Australia? We don't really expect to turn a corner between Toyota Agency and Midland Bank and see Ayers Rock raising its red hump in the noonday distance. and so on to the approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Then come crowded neighborhoods still blessed with little greenery but where walls of brick and glass open to an occasional off street parking area. east and west. furniture stores. They would like to affirm a pride in an automobile with impeccable Australian origins. many of whom find Holdens neither as stylish nor as mechanically sound as Toyotas and Datsuns. the harbor flowed below us. Leaving the hotel. slab-sided walls of shiny metal. We pass strip shopping malls. Theirs is the anonymous face of international corporate finance.700 miles north of Sydney. Little in the way of ornamentation mars their reflective surfaces. it is viewed with mixed feelings by Australians. mid-size by American standards. past and present. and many Australians purchase their cars guiltily. not right). the company has been controlled by General Motors. Since 1931. metered. the Opera House spread its sails to our right. apartments. The Holden was a four-door sedan. or polished stone. As we pass. clean and streamlined. Brick predominates. We don't expect to arrive any minute at Cairns. and then single homes that nestle behind brick walls or high green shrubbery. drugstores²they begin now to occupy separate buildings rather than parts of them.
Ourimbah that suggest an accommodation between old and new much closer to Sydney. The highway offers new possibilities. Most other traffic passes you by at 120. they are leaved with browny. It is fast. the meaning was long ago absorbed in the passing of the Dreamtime. they will have to slow somewhat. Our Motorist's Map of South East Australia shows the distance from Sydney to Newcastle Junction as 171 kilometers. as it remains today. We might have chosen the railroad. eager for the landscape. As it happens. People commute to work in Sydney by rail from Newcastle." the guidebooks say. For long stretches the land seems almost empty of inhabitants. where Highway 1 bursts suddenly alive after its cramped struggle through the city. After turning onto it. but you travel at 100 or 110 kilometers an hour and the dense traffic ceases to cause concern. The fastest way between Sydney and Newcastle is by air. the family. but you aren't sure. cover a landscape of gently rolling hills. domestic or wild. 130. we have approximately 150 kilometers left. As a routine consequence. the posted limit (just under 70 miles an hour). Grasslands. In this extensive emptiness. cuts into the same sandstone that carries the aboriginal record. A few trees spread scraggly arms skyward. the sky-father. and without parking worries. inexpensive. Although primitive Aborigines are long gone. Manmade cliffs rise on either side. You keep the speedometer on 110. and we begin to encounter the Australia of our imagination. There are few houses and no towns. Where are the Aboriginal settlements? Where are the sheep and cattle stations? Where are the eucalyptus forests? Where are the swirling dust storms. expecting to be gone a couple of days. despite my attempts to forestall the procedure. that seems a minor matter as the road swiftly unwinds between hills. the picnic basket. you guess. "lead to a number of the park's 200 Aboriginal galleries and 15 sets of cave paintings. no animals. Each way took several hours. Ku-ring-gai National Park spreads 36." Petroglyphs pecked in sandstone extend to enormous lengths: 20 meters for a whale about to swallow a man. Eucalyptus. Cars whizzing past on our right seem determined to make that in an hour or less. "Paths. closely cropped and mostly brown in July. Still. and the billy (the kettle for making tea) into the Holden. you remain in the Sydney suburbs for a few kilometers. if you are making this trip on your second day in Australia. The railroad then was a straight shot at a good clip. for the divided portion of the Pacific Highway ends 50 kilometers or so from Newcastle. or 140 kilometers an hour as you begin to perceive that the Australian reputation for moving through life in the slow lane was not earned on the highway. and unpaved within the memory of many who still drive it. Although it is midwinter and they look to be deciduous. A car trip then was an excursion. winding. On the right. The figures can't be seen from the highway. and Daramulen. Qantas and the Australian-American Education Foundation combined to issue me a ticket for the swooping flight by small plane up the coast. When we reach the highway. For many. green foliage. Then the traffic thins and the land spreads wide. which until recently covered much the same ground much more quickly than driving. One minute we were passing through narrow hedge-lined streets and in the next we made a gliding turn onto the highway interchange and found ourselves on the open road to the north. Instead of petroglyphs painstakingly pecked by hand-held sharp stones. his son or brother. we chose to drive. dot the open hillsides or weave through the woodlands.000 acres of heath and forest toward seaside cliffs invisible from the road. we took barely half an hour to drive from the Randwick Hotel to Hornsby. which drives through hills the earlier road went over or around. and forests. or the smoke and flames of the bush on fire? Where are the gold mines. The sky is bright blue and a few wispy and white clouds drift high overhead. marks of blasting by dynamite . the opal and sapphire diggings? Where are the Land Rovers equipped with roo bars to protect headlights and radiator grilles from side-hopping kangaroos? Although anticipation made it longer. Nevertheless. What is now Highway 1 was long. You packed the wife. Four thousand figures have been recorded here. plains. There it spreads itself and metamorphoses into a six-lane divided highway that carries traffic north for two-thirds of the remaining 90 miles to Newcastle. 18 for Baiume. they have left traces of their presence.
a suburban shopping center. and we haven't yet discovered that Australians don't tip in restaurants.and of cutting by pneumatic drills are inscribed on the face of tan walls that will slowly darken from the pollution of exhaust fumes. The road runs along a narrow neck of land separating the Pacific Ocean from Lake Macquarie. the handsome homes of Merewether Heights ascend the hillside between us and the water. eucalyptus trees still carry their leaves. More than in Sydney. highlighted with brightly contrasting shutters and trim. we observe wind socks dangling from poles above its railings. duller in color than in spring and summer. a rented house in a neighborhood called Merewether. and then into Newcastle. We soon learn that Australians pride themselves on paying fair . Suddenly the roadway sweeps over a rise to present a breathtaking prospect of steep hillsides falling precipitously to the Hawkesbury River. and negotiate a roundabout built for traffic leaving the highway to enter Gosford. Later. side roads lead up steep ways to overlook points. On the right. The service is poor. the first of many resort towns along the coast heading north from Sydney that the new road has made easily accessible by car. The impression coming upon it from the south is at first mostly of blue water and green. silvers. Cars are shiny. The Hawkesbury is fabled for its beauty. where. We park quickly. we begin to take in the vivid colors of Australia. the road swoops over a rise between Adamstown Heights and Highfield as the Pacific Highway turns into City Road. I picked up no such clue when I added a tip to the bill in the Indian restaurant in Manly. in the country. the human presence much more apparent. Along the freeway. a warning of dangerous air currents that might sweep out of the mountains and down the channel of the Hawkesbury. but they display also surprising oranges and yellows uncommon in the United States. he knows it. connected with the ocean at Swansea. however. Roofs in the city gleam with red tiles. enter the first restaurant we see that advertises soup and sandwiches. we descend to Glebe Road and follow it to The Junction. As the hillside falls out sight the Pacific Ocean spreads itself in blue serenity. At the second intersection. the dominant impression is of a land touched only in spots by the white man's progress. The key is in the hands of the friend from the university who has agreed to meet us here at 2:00 p. Twenty-four kilometers in length. Is 110 kph too fast to meet this possibility? My foot feels for the brake. the colors more true than those at home. green corrugated iron is the rule. when few flowers bloom. tree-lined shore and later of the clean. though the highway is changing that. which remains Route 1. A steep climb of half a mile brings us to a hilltop and to the address we seek. Houses are of red or yellow brick. For the last 50 kilometers to Newcastle. On the left lies a wooded area that separates us from our destination. Gosford itself lies out of sight. This proprietor. and it is just a few minutes after 1:00. unrusted. After Charlestown. All looks well. As we dip toward the suspension bridge that crosses the river. there lies far to the west of the highway a titanic structure that is surely a power plant. Lake Macquarie spreads its waters between 150 kilometers (100 miles) of irregular shoreline. but we cannot yet get in. which is often in view. slow down. though we have been driving into it on much of our trip from Sydney. the driving is slower. bright with the greens. and the scenery still very beautiful. or of gleaming white or yellow stucco. A few homes perch high on the hillsides. We are not yet accustomed to a sun shining from the north. At Belmont. Palm trees provide a hint of the tropics we didn't expect to see this far south. Here we briefly touch civilization again. sometimes rust-stained. Route 1 descends rapidly ro the Glebe Road intersection. fueled by Hunter Valley coal. In search of lunch. we turn left again at Macquarie Street. bright resort towns of Swansea and Belmont that touch its eastern shore. runs through Charlestown. South? It has an odd ring to it. overlooking the river. the road leaves the lake behind. The air is cleaner. Pleasure boats crowd a sheltered cove far below the bridge. a center for boating. the place that will become our local shopping center for the next few months. Macquarie is a salt water lake. and proceed to embarrass ourselves and insult the proprietor by insisting on tipping him when we leave. it becomes necessary to brake. and maroons of Detroit and Japan. stammers something in red-faced anguish about not wanting the money I place on the counter by the cash register and I leave it anyway. Even in midwinter.m. following instructions. Despite such intrusions. blues. Further on in a countryside mostly forested. we turn left.
Just beyond our driveway. she wrote. "It's on a hill." she wrote to us when we were still in Ann Arbor. reasonably good furnishings. was not close to the university. we couldn't have done better." The neglected footpath that entered was steep and uncertain of footing. The small bush at the edge of our handerchief sized back lawn proved a thickly wooded. what bird-eating spiders might jump from hidden nests in response to hands or faces tearing frantically at sticky webs. In most ways. Australians come upon their winter season slowly. and conical evergreens set off against the spread of gum trees. with hedges. crooked limbs. They take great pride in their hard-won heritage of social equality and the national promise of a "fair go" for everyone. which ran below. Ignorant of the customs of the country. and swimming pools. It has room for our family. although much around us looked tropical. Acceptance of a tip is a sign of unbecoming servility.wages. What we didn't know was what size she meant by "small. From the safer height of our back veranda. and rough. manicured lawns. and central heat. The house. from the brow of the hill. multi-car garages. to the estates of Merewether Heights. our immediate response was to look at much of the view without entering into it. Invading branches and vines suggested passage would be difficult. and close to ocean and lake. we suffered at times in that house from a bone-chilling cold reminiscent of other houses in our past in the damp. or what creatures might inhabit it. we intended to buy or lease a car." what a "bush" in Newcastle might look like. the views varied from pleasant to splendid. a tame and civilized Australia dominated. Beyond the harbor we . Not least was the good work Dianne performed in finding us a house. Our jetlag seemed not just a few hours but six months suddenly lost. In the back. It was not a place that said. "come in. three or four kilometers away. For us it was still the Fourth of July. At the front of the house. In this place. nicely. In any case. and daunting tangle of undergrowth and gum (eucalyptus) trees. we saw every morning the city of Newcastle spread out before us. we understood that phrase to mean not a small shrub but a wild space. but there was public transportation. Below lay the city center and then the harbor. The yard overlooks a "small bush" in the back. Even from the distance of Michigan. though. Our red brick wall enclosed a little lawn entirely shaded by a large gum tree with spotty trunk. dark. a wide space at the mouth of the Hunter River where behemoth coal ships stopped for loading. flaking bark. Nevertheless. a portion of Australian bush country. Outside. scarcely heated interiors of Scotland and Wales. others beside Alison would look closely at three-inch insects to be sure they were nothing more menacing than cockroaches. and we decided to defer exploration until we had a better idea what snakes and scorpions might crawl in the undergrowth. we looked over the bush and the ribbon of Highway One. we nevertheless arrived in Newcastle with many advantages.
the Milky Way shone with a brilliance I remembered from a country childhood in Massachusetts. which we supplemented with The Catcher in the Rye and Going After Cacciato. at that time $20 in the United States. with occasionally two or three huge coal ships lined up at anchor offshore. after the sun fell behind the western hills. the low brick houses and red-tiled roofs of our neighbors. low-lying fairyland that was dwarfed by the overarching dark.could see the town of Stockton. Kooragang Island. In 1987 Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines focused on the bleak. Above. To the west of Stockton. Before our arrival we possessed images of Australia derived from the popular press. we retained stirring memories of the Anzacs marching into battle with their broad-brimmed hats jauntily pinned up on one side. and television. Perhaps one reason to cringe before books from Europe or America is because they cost so much. Correcting for the difference in the currency. seemed a perpetual-motion machine of prosperous industry. The Bush as It Once Was We went to Newcastle to teach American literature and to learn about Australia. movies. that it would take a while to understand. Ambitions to assign more books were scaled downward when we learned of the cost. the National Geographic. cramming a year's work into one semester. Later he came on TV for Qantas and invited us to the less forbidding country of the Sydney Opera House. which defined Australia as a land of swampy jungles and crocodiles. the wide Pacific opened on our right as a series of bathing and surfing beaches. We welcomed this chance see American literature through foreign eyes. largely uninhabited central Australia of Robyn Davidson's camel trek to highlight the remnants of an Aboriginal culture thousands of years old. beyond and above it all. For our students. From World War II newsreels. shot on location. in the dark of the moon. That was to the north. At night. Barbara from a similar darkness in the dim nighttime skies of a small coal town in western Pennsylvania. Man's impression on this continent is limited. for me." an ingrained Aussie deference to foreign cultures. Barbara and I met eighteen students in twice-weekly seminars of two hours each. we saw the small. Prominent among these. where light pollution dims the stars. whose 1977 trip is told in Tracks. still in print. These prices were not unusual. where the sun was highest at noon. Barbara and I remembered the stunning landscapes and sweaty sheepshearers of The Sundowners. but here the constellations were not the familiar ones. awaiting their turn to enter the harbor and load for Japan the coals of Newcastle. the blue hills of the Great Dividing Range. Contemporary American Literature. with Stockton Beach stretching its long crescent into the distant north. to the west. The high cost of books in Australia was discussed frequently in the public press and in faculty lounges at the University of Newcastle during of our stay. Prominent among them was the Southern Cross. covered with smokestacks and manufacturing buildings. with an economic twist. Australians talk of the "Cultural Cringe. Then the twenty-four-hour white lights of Kooragang pricked out a distant. the class represented a third of their academic work for the year and acquainted them with authors not much taught in Australia. and. For reading we assigned selections from our anthology. Here was a cultural difference. Looking across our street. neat yards. which I also remembered from scholarly essays on techniques of chipping flint knives and spear-points read many years ago in college. the Harbour Bridge. To accomplish the first goal. . were mental pictures of a lone woman crossing the central desert with four camels and a dog²Robyn Davidson. a Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum film from 1960. Our anthology. and good neighbors throwing another shrimp on the barbie. the sky turned blacker than any known to American cities. When we left home in the morning to begin the descent down Macquarie Street. our students paid nearly 150% of the cost to Americans. cost $40 in Australian dollars. We had all seen Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee. With Alison and Suzanne we had watched Australian surfers on television and followed the America's Cup challenge in Perth.
Beyond Denman. or paved with gravel. he will not see the ghosts of the gold miners who in the last century tore up the soil around Mudgee and Gulgong. we waited until we arrived in Australia. and represented. A visitor approaching Newcastle for the first time can easily take a wrong turn about fifty kilometers outside the city. who gave birth to one of Australia's major authors and to the woman's suffrage movement in New South Wales. finding the roads into less settled country may not be so easy. Still. although he will feel their presence. Cessnock? This is the edge of Hunter Valley Wine country. an immigrant digger who never got over the fever. about the time he thinks he should be arriving. finding there both vineyards and horse and cattle farms. and Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith. there will be time to do that and have lunch at the Butterfly Tea Room. echidnas prowl for ants. Toward Bylong and Mudgee. say. Except for Keneally's.We were largely ignorant of Australian literature. nearby. near Denman. Koalas will sleep in crotches in the trees. Then. Leaving the Hunter and following the Goulburn River for part of the way they will climb still further over and around the mountains of the Great Dividing Range. . He looks at his map. The Goulburn River National Park extends itself in apparently endless forest to his right. he may feel their presence. On his side of the valley. the Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy processes milk for Newcastle and Sydney. he will see signs for Cessnock. he will pass forests of brownish-green eucalyptus trees. they will be narrow. but he will probably not see them. the things happening in Australian literature recently. if we had seen them. These were among the few books by contemporary Australian authors readily available in Ann Arbor. In the weeks before we left. we began to repair our ignorance. well-perused. Nevil Shute was a name connected with the 1950s films of A Town Like Alice and On the Beach. pursuing the spirit of the place in its words. A Fodor's or a Guide Michelin assists a traveler to check off with pride the visits to sites established by geologic and man-made history. we hoped. Bylong. or of his mother. The Lower and Upper Hunter are pastoral and prosperous. Unless he is uncommonly imaginative. This is a place where wombats browse the grasslands by night. and Gulgong. in those days. The surest way to understand a country is through its literature. Past and present lie much closer together in Australia than in America. The mountains beside the valley are not high as mountains of the world go. published in 1972. kookaburras laughing in the trees. west of Denman. For the past. stretches more than a hundred miles southward. platypuses in the streams. Wollemi National Park. and there discover the way to Denman. Mudgee. He won't know it for awhile. Most of the other pages of Australian literary history remained as blank as the Nullarbor Plain. We knew of Patrick White's winning the Nobel Prize in 1973. at 9:00 that morning. Most of these he will miss. Australia's largest forested wilderness. and then we read back and forth in time. If he left Sydney. reading Peter Carey's Illywhacker and Oscar and Lucinda. At Musswellbrook. He will pass kangaroos in the bush. He can visit the winery. 17 kilometers. Our traveler should not be surprised to find that for stretches of twenty kilometers at a time they are unimproved. or the ghost of Henry Lawson. but the ethos of the country is far better understood and longer remembered if beside the Fodor's there rests in the luggage an appropriate novel. Along the way. but had read little of his work. in addition to the cultivated and semi-cultivated areas of the Hunter Valley. Louisa Lawson. but these left only faint imprints on the memory. or of Henry Lawson's father. but when he arrives at Mudgee he will descend from the pass to a broad valley 1536 feet above the sea level he left at Sydney. lie the Rosemount Estate wineries. Perhaps he is familiar with Tyrrell's Long Flat Red. who spent his early years in the area. winding trails. He can take the road from Broke toward Singleton. the legacy of the early discovery of the rich alluvial soil bordering the Hunter River. Charmed by the spirit of unplanned travel. they were books of the mid to late 1980s. wintry brown in winter. he may decide to give Newcastle a miss on this day.ubiquitous in the United States. On Rosemount Road. He will skirt the edge of the Upper Hunter. Elizabeth Jolley's The Well.
Men would try their luck for a month. and there were great trees all along. they packed their things and moved again. and if they failed. two of Australia's seminal authors-to-be. an Australian classic. and tables upside down with bedding and things between the legs. or did not meet success to satisfy them. with my foot in the noose of a rope. In 1870 Henry Lawson was three years old. . by light refracted through oils airborne from the eucalyptus forests). Meanwhile. . a "gorgeously grand edifice" was being erected on the same site. . The high plains west of the Great Dividing Range were close to the sea.000 people at Gullgong. . lured by an accidental turn onto a roundabout route. As we went we saw parties of men. But the men I saw were journeying some one way and some the other. where the great author luxuriated in a room "made only of slabs. Our journey . . and a future leading feminist. Rising literally above and around his place of lodging. . some say. gold dishes. Pushing out from Sydney toward the Blue Mountains (so colored. lean-to kitchen attached. and was performed in the commissioner's buggy. I did not like to go back from my word when the moment . where his parents intended to settle as farmers.I went down the shaft of one. In the same year gold was discovered on Red Hill at Gulgong. Henry described the scene in his "Fragment of Autobiography": We were in a cart with bedding and a goat and a cat in a basket and fowls in a box. either leisurely tramping along the road with their swags on their back. and then it went only to Bathurst. but were not settled immediately. our serendipitous traveler will stumble upon a landscape rich in evocations of Australian literature and cultural history. was one of three days from Bathurst. By road. . After the first crossing in 1813. . They probably lived in the tent brought from Grenfell until they built a slab and stringybark hut of two rooms. and buckets and pots hanging round. The town already boasted a hotel. the oldest town west of the Dividing Range. A "rough place" when Trollope saw it. . which lies only a little over 200 kilometers (125 miles) in a direct line to the east. or perhaps for a fortnight. followed in 1838. the men themselves are orderly and slow. Trollope left descriptions of his visit: I was told there were 12. Gulgong (his second "l" is not in general use). when they heard of the strike at Gulgong. Then I learned that such was the case with almost all rushes. . Anthony Trollope was among the thousands who joined the rush that fall. . Naturally he had to visit the mines: . he will consider anomalies of time and distance in a land that possesses endless amounts of both. Having offered to descend. the second oldest.' and when very numerous may be described as a stampede. or taking their mid-day siesta under the gum-trees. proved less rough than he supposed it might be. about five miles from Mudgee. where his father had been prospecting a goldfield farther west. and teams with loads of bark and rafters. was soon settled. In the fall of 1871. would pack up their swags and would betake themselves elsewhere. . with a dirt-floored. Bathurst.In a day's drive from Sydney. early English explorers were stopped by sheer rock cliffs. and gold cradles. Backs were turned upon Gullgong as well as faces towards it. windlass boles and picks and shovels. a dozen miles from Mudgee. Though the influx of the men to such a place as Gullgong is a 'rush. generally ten or twelve in number. he will find it more nearly 280 kilometers." but set aside for him alone. 150 feet deep. . . Born in a tent at Grenfell. So for a brief period the gold rush at Gulgong brought into close proximity a famous British author. Mudgee. he was carried when still an infant to Pipeclay. He was honored at a lunch presided over by Rolf Boldrewood. all of whom had collected themselves thither within a few months. . The railway didn't make its way into the area until 1870. . Tomorrow he may make his way to Newcastle. He will make it in a few hours. but he came to observe rather than dig. the local police magistrate who would later write Robbery Under Arms.
The Prince of Wales Opera House stands as a monument to flush times.--and I found six or seven men working at the bottom of the hole. Electric lights and a Toyota dealer have arrived. and that I wished I had been less courageous. The Lawsons lived in Gulgong while Henry aged from four to six. but to keep me suspended in that dark abyss.--I own that my heart gave way. Louisa Lawson fought for woman's rights in New South Wales. Henry Lawson wrote stories and poems central to Australian literature. . For all that. living in a house much like the one in Pipeclay. but the past lingers in Victorian storefronts. a few tumble-down haunted huts. At the site of the Lawson cabin. "The Drover's Wife. and hills rising still blue in the distance. and wide verandas. she was in the town.--or not to lower me at all.came. and floored with split slabs. for the digger holes have been filled. goats. Taken together. two little gullies full of digger holes caving in. . and as I remembered that I was being lowered by the operations of a horse who might take it into his brutish head to lower me at any rate he pleased. Still. Today. a little brown flat. As they tried to work the land of their selection. verandah included. slabs. a traveler sees little to suggest desolation. . and water brought to the thirsty soil. Nor has time been kind to the Lawson homestead. a reader of Lawson's fiction needs only to turn inward to the imagination to see between the unchanging sky and hills a life passionately lived in this area not long ago. rank weeds. only the chimney remains. the fields cultivated. prickly pears. and utter desolation. and stringy bark. .000 people on the goldfields of Gulgong in the fall of 1871. Scotch thistles. she is trapped in a situation that Lawson turns into an archetypical tale of life in the bush. They opened a store and a post office. but as the light of the day faded from my descending eyes. A big bark kitchen standing at one end is larger than the house itself. Today there is probably less blue-gray scrub and fewer Scotch thistles or prickly pears. Henry's mother. with a paragraph of just two sentences: The two-roomed house is built of round timber. But I went down. By 1873 the population reached 30. One of the sights mentioned briefly by Trollope was the "postmistress . gold was discovered nearby and the laws were insufficient to protect their property from the picks and shovels of the prospectors. and I came up again. and she must have been absorbing the attitudes that led to her positions of leadership in the struggle for women's rights. then again gave up the search for gold and returned to Pipeclay. A memorial on Red Hill marks the place where Tom Saunders found the first nugget. But the hills were still blue in the distance. Mother and son led lives that combined great success and crushing defeat." It would make a nice story if that beauty was Louisa Lawson. who became postmistress at Pipeclay not long after. corrugated iron roofs. fewer than 2. Much like Louisa. life at Pipeclay was not kind to them.000. Gulgong was a place where women performed honest work. There are grasslands in the near view. Bathurst burrs. bluegrey scrub. Whether or not she sorted mail. . beauty of Gullgong. When the Lawsons left the rush. but also sees nothing of the thousands who once thronged to that place in search of gold. an old farm or two on the outskirts. Pipeclay can no longer be found on maps. Henry Lawson's most famous story. the rush did not leave them. Here is Lawson's description of later abandonment: Pipeclay was a stony barren ridge. but I possess no evidence to place her at the earlier post. ." draws much of its strength from the mother at its center. they stand emblematic of persistent strains in the Australian national character. Trollope estimated 12. The place goes now by its Aboriginal name of Eurunderee. The story begins sparsely. Standing by the chimney of the Lawson house. vineyards further on.000 people share a removed and semi-rural tranquility.
In the next paragraph Lawson spreads the scene to emphasize the house's isolation: Bush all round²bush with no horizon, for the country is flat. No ranges in the distance. The bush consists of stunted, rotten native apple trees. No undergrowth. Nothing to relieve the eyes save the darker green of a few she oaks which are sighing above the narrow, almost waterless creek. Nineteen miles to the nearest sign of civilization²a shanty on the main road. These are not the surroundings of the Lawson house in Pipeclay, which stood five miles from Mudgee and bustled with life in the boom times. The Lawson house looked not upon an empty horizon but upon the blue hills of the Great Dividing Range. Moving the house to the far bush, Lawson took it from the coastal mountains and deposited it in an empty interior, haunting to the Australian imagination. A reader can be sure that for this woman there is no easy three days to the nearest railhead, and a short run then to Sydney, Newcastle, or Melbourne. The emptiness of the land weighs heavily on the Australian psyche even when the lives of most people are passed, as most of Lawson's was, much closer to sea and mountains than to the endlessly stretching Outback. There are no mines anywhere near the landscape of this story. If there were, there would be people, stores, a post office, a hotel, an opera house. There would be dances of the kind reported by Trollope, with "heart-burning" over questions of social distinction. "The postmistress would not attend the ball," he reported, "unless the barmaids were excluded." In the world of the drover's wife, social distinctions can mean little. Nineteen miles to the nearest shanty places the people there effectively beyond reach except in the most dire emergency. With her husband away, driving his sheep, she remains alone with her four children for months at a time. Once, we are told, she suffered this isolation for eighteen months straight. Her husband is an "ex-squatter." He has failed to derive a living from the land under the complicated laws of possession in nineteenth-century Australia, where some squatters founded great family fortunes. The best employment he can find is driving other people's sheep to market. It is an occupation only a step or two from none at all, not far above the life of the swagman trudging from place to place in search of work, shelter, and food. In making the husband a drover, Lawson connected him firmly to two talismatic elements of the Australian experience. There is the land that remains after the fever of the gold has passed, and there are the vast distances to be traversed in a "bush with no horizon." And the land, whether men dig into it or pass over it, broods with an ancient hostility. This hostility leaps to the center of the story when one of the children yells "Snake! Mother, here's a snake!" The woman grabs up her baby with one hand and a stick with the other. A "gaunt, sun-browned bushwoman," she is never given a name. "The Drover's Wife" is not a long story. Its immediate action covers only a few hours. Appearing in the yard not long before sunset, the snake immediately disappears under the house. The story ends on the next morning, when "the sickly daylight breaks over the bush." Meanwhile, frustrated in her attempts to coax it out with milk, the woman will not allow her children in the house, where the snake might come up at any time through the wide gaps in the floorboards. She keeps them in the kitchen annex, where the floor is of dirt, as the Lawson floor in Pipeclay was. There she puts the children to bed on the kitchen table and sits down to watch all night for the snake. A big, black mongrel dog waits with her. Present action evokes the past. As the woman sits, waiting for the snake to emerge, she alternately sews and reads. and her mind churns with memories of earlier events that characterize her life in the bush. In four pages that constitute over half of the story, she remembers her brother-in-law's son, who died from a snakebite. She recalls how her youngest children were born in the bush, and the drunken doctor her husband had to fetch to her bedside. She remembers the child who died while her husband was alone, and the nineteen miles she had to carry the dead child on horseback, seeking help. She remembers floods and bush fires, and how she "put on an old pair of her husband's trousers and beat out the flames with a green
bough, till great drops of sooty perspiration stood out on her forehead and ran in streaks down her blackened arms." She remembers shooting and skinning a mad bull that attacked the house, threatening it for an entire day. She remembers the demand for tucker from the "gallows-faced swagman" who passed the week before. Even in the bush, she has tried to retain a semblance of civilized gentility. On Sundays she dresses up herself and the children and pushes the baby in a carriage for a walk along the bush track in emulation of the walk they would take around her city block if she lived in other circumstances. In this place, however, she sees nothing of interest, and she meets nobody: You might walk for twenty miles along this track without being able to fix a point in your mind, unless you are a bushman. This is because of the everlasting, maddening sameness of the stunted trees--that monotony which makes a man long to break away and travel as far as trains can go, and sail as far as ships can sail²and further. At the end of "The Drover's Wife" the woman abandons her thoughts and springs back to her present task, alerted by signs from the dog that he senses the snake emerging. Soon an "evil pair of small, bright, beadlike eyes glisten" next to one of the slabs forming the partition between house and kitchen. The snake starts out, sees the dog, and circles back on the other side of the slab, but not before the dog has its body in its teeth. The dog pulls, the woman attacks with her stick, and between them they kill the snake. She burns its body in the fireplace. When the ordeal is over, the dog relaxes and the three younger children have been calmed and gone back to sleep. The oldest son remains awake. Presently he looks up at her, sees the tears in her eyes, and, throwing his arms around her neck, and exclaims: "Mother, I won't never go drovin'; blast me if I do!" Set in a vast, hostile Australia of no particular year or decade, and told in the present tense, "The Drover's Wife" resonates backward and forward in time across the Australian literary and cultural landscape. When the boy promises "Mother, I won't never go drovin'," he means he will not grow up to follow his father. He will forgo that part of the masculine imperative to work by the side of mother or wife. He will plough the earth, raise sheep and cattle, and make the land pay. He will wrestle from the continent the living that by lying there, free for the taking, the European settler believes it has promised him. Although the mother "hugs him to her worn-out breast and kisses him," she knows as well as the reader that he will almost certainly break this promise, just as his father did. In the end the land and the culture will triumph. This is a land where women stay home to face "that monotony which makes a man long to break away and travel as far as trains can go, and sail as far as ships can sail--and further." Louisa Lawson lived not so deep in the bush as the drover's wife. Tired of the forlorn existence of the gold fever wife and of the nearly impossible task of cobbling together a living from farming, storekeeping, or sorting mail in Pipeclay, she separated from her husband and took the younger children to Sydney. In 1888, she founded a feminist journal, The Dawn, which she edited under the pseudonym "Dora Falconer." Every issue carried a motto that might have been written by the wife of a drover or a digger and spoke to women everywhere: "A day, an hour of virtuous liberty / Is worth a whole eternity in bondage." In the first number, she announced her aims by quoting Tennyson's "Woman is not uncompleted man, but diverse," and continuing: . . . and being diverse why should she not have her journal in which her divergent hopes, aims and opinions may have representation. . . .There has hitherto been no trumpet through which the concentrated voice of womankind could publish their grievances and their opinions. Men legislate on divorce, on hours of labour, and many another question affecting women, but neither ask nor know the wishes of those whose lives and happiness are most concerned. . . . Here then is Dawn, the Australian Women's Journal and
mouthpiece--phonograph to wind out audibly the whispers, pleadings and demands of the sisterhood. Incurring the wrath of the New South Wales Typographical Association by employing women printers only, she survived that battle and kept The Dawn in print until 1905. Asserting in her first editorial that "half of Australia's women's lives are unhappy, but there are paths out of most labyrinths, and we will set up finger posts," she crusaded for marital equality, for homes for battered and homeless women, for "women warders in police stations and lock-ups," for equality in the workplace, for relief from the tyranny of fashion, and for better schools for the poor. Nothing affecting women was beneath her attention: "If you want 'rings on your fingers and bells on your toes,' we will tell you where they can best be bought." Not satisfied with women's freedom only, she broadened her attention to include Australian nationalism, calling for the display of the Australian flag in schools. The Union Jack of colonialism should give way to the Southern Cross of liberty. The dawn of the new century was to be bright indeed. She pressed for voting rights for women as long as that remained an issue. In 1891, she addressed the first meeting of the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales. When the battle was won--in 1902, eighteen years before American women won the same right--she was introduced in Parliament as "the mother of womanhood suffrage in New South Wales." Her declining years were less fortunate. Injured in 1900 when thrown from a new electric tram running to Circular Quay, she spent much of the next year bedridden at home in Manly, and she was probably never again fully healthy. She continued The Dawn with the help of a daughter, but thrust much of her energy into claims against the postal service for their use of an improved mailbag buckle she invented. After The Dawn died, she published a volume of verse, The Lonely Crossing, and contributed a number of short stories to magazines. Meanwhile, tragedies struck her family. Each of her three sons spent time in mental hospitals before she was committed to and died in one in 1920. In her lifetime she crossed the boundary between masculine and feminine destinies that enclosed the drover's wife. Reversing the direction of digger or drover, she went as far toward the city as the train would carry her, and then by water to Manly, "seven miles from Sydney," but not for her "a thousand miles from care." She escaped the madness of wild bulls in the outback, but not, if we pursue the symbolic resonances of her son's most famous story, the "maddening sameness of the stunted trees" of her existence. The curve of Henry Lawson's life rose higher than his mother's and his decline was more precipitous. Disappointed, bitter, drunken, he outlived Louisa Lawson by just two years. He was twenty when he published his first poem in Sydney's Bulletin in 1887, the year before Louisa began The Dawn. He worked as a journalist on the Brisbane Boomerang, then journeyed through the far bush to Bourke and to the country "back o' Bourke," in his time considered the beginning of the real Outback, as it remains today, when fast cars or trains quickly cover the 500 mile run from Sydney to Bourke. When he returned from the more arduous trip of his day, Lawson possessed the material to ensure his place in Australian Literature. He had only to write it. "The Drover's Wife" and several more of his best stories were collected in Stories in Prose and Verse, his first book, published by Louisa in 1894 on The Dawn's presses. In its preface he challenged the conditions of the Australian cultural cringe: This is an attempt to publish, in Australia, a collection of sketches and stories at a time when everything Australian, in the shape of a book, must bear the imprint of a London publishing firm before our critics will condescend to notice it, and before the 'reading public' will think it worth its while to buy nearly so many copies as will pay for the mere cost of printing a presentable volume. Largely ignored, Stories in Prose and Verse was followed by four books issued by a prominent Sydney publisher, and these won a following in Australia: In the Days When the World Was Wide(1896), verses;
but a new century was dawning. Hawthorne struggled against the dominance of English writers in American periodicals and spent four years as American consul in Liverpool trying to recoup from the financial wreckage of American authorship. Later. Their cultural independence followed more naturally. "Americans had their political independence. In short. Stein." With the assistance of the Governor. though. Stories like "The Drover's Wife" provide permanent images for the idea of the Australian bush. Publication there in 1901 of The Country I Come From and Joe Wilson and His Mates. In 1900. stories and sketches. Unlike Robert Frost a dozen years later. Famous in the provincial world of Australian writers. a mixture of prose and verse. the American comparison staggers and falls flat against the instant Aussie return. to observe that others have received similar cuts. he begged help from the Governor of New South Wales: The position of Australian literature is altogether hopeless in Australia--there is no market. . he was an alcoholic. Eliot. I am wasting my work. . Henry James could not conceive of an American career as a writer and lived mostly in England. religion. and died in 1922. so I am tied hopelessly. spoiling the reputation I have gained. and Verses.While the Billy Boils (1896). I'm sure that within two years I could win fame and fortune in London and repay you. and he was emotionally unstable. . imprisoned for wife and child desertion. Nothing 'goes' well here that does not come from or through England . Popular and Humorous (1900). Mateship implies an equality and fraternity among men. Even successful careers were not wholly so without European approval. wasting my life. particularly. education. however. Irving followed the fame of The Sketch Book abroad and came home with Tales of a Traveller and The Alhambra. temperament. he met with no stunning success. Hemingway and other Americans sought on the far side of the Atlantic both stimulus to their careers and critical validation. Frost. and another one due this month. felled by a stroke. rooted in an abiding sense of colonial inferiority. Well into the twentieth century. Will you help me out of the miserable hole I am in? . When men leave wives and homes beaten by circumstances or impelled by distant promises. So was the best part of his life. incarcerated in mental hospitals. the promise of the American and French revolutions tested on the goldfields and in the shearing camps of Australia. his country was flexing the muscles of equality of men. In Australia. have one child. The oldest and wealthiest Daily in Australia fills its columns with matter clipped from English and American magazines. He was thirty-five. . collections of stories. . Such a record for a man in his early thirties should have been gratifying. It salves no wounds. and when he returned to Australia in 1902 his best work was behind him. . with his two books for that year still in press. and he seethed with colonial discontent in his hunger for a London publisher. was followed in the next year by Children of the Bush. and wearing out my brains and heart here in Australia. As a deeply-held creed of a . Cooper completed The Prairie in Paris. he continued for another decade to publish books with Australian publishers as he slid into scandal and illness. If I were single I would find my way to England somehow. his marriage was destroyed. . women. On the Track and Over the Sliprails (1900). After the success of the first two of the Leatherstocking books. . The concept of Australian "mateship" he made memorable in verse. He was arrested and fined for public drunkenness. and nationhood. ethnic or national identity. they pick up as mates other men similarly traveling toward the horizon. more stories and sketches. Lawson went to London and stayed two years. Differences of class. and color disappear as camaraderie is born and nurtured in the bush. In his writings he gave concrete and lasting shape to two central icons of Australian identity. but I am married. American writers voiced similar complaints in the first half of the nineteenth-century as they attempted to establish a national literature distinct from the literature of Great Britain.
Lawson's "The Shearers" expresses the sentimental ideal: No church-bell rings them from the Track. Or wrong man there or right man. . of "Waltzing Matilda" fame. The camp-fare for the stranger set. "No worries. It found early expression in the "Bush Ballads" popular at the end of the nineteenth century." And touch their hats to no man! Nostalgia dominates Lawson's "The Roaring Days": The night too quickly passes And we are growing old. Of toil and thirst and danger. No pulpit lights their blindness-'Tis hardship." says today's Australian. "The Streets of Laredo. Banjo Paterson. besides Henry Lawson. So let us fill our glasses And toast the Days of Gold. that no questions should be asked of a stranger. When finds of wondrous treasure Set all the South ablaze. that everyone deserves a fair go. most of the bush ballads were Kiplingesque literary creations of a group of poets that included. As an ideal. . mateship springs from the conviction that the past is past. mateship is easily sentimentalized or expressed as a nostalgic lament for better days. The mate that's honest to his mates They call that man a "white man"! They tramp in mateship side by side-The Protestant and "Roman"-They call no biped lord or "sir. drought and homelessness That teach those Bushmen kindness: The mateship born of barren lands. mate.country where most of the first inhabitants were convicts and the others the soldiers and government officials who enforced rules of order. affirming the easy comradeship of human kinship. And though they may be brown or black. Unlike "The Buffalo Skinners". The first place to the stranger. And you and I were faithful mates ." or other anonymous folksongs of the American West. .
native-apple. on barren creeks (abandoned by pioneering farmers and pastoralists 'moving up country' half a century ago). and sometimes several large families. The diggings are deserted. life-draining toil. then our hearts were bolder. he could be harsher still. soft-focus haze of comforting national myth." In his prose." where he describes the dark underside of life outside the civilizing influences of Australia's coastal settlements: . the other side of success is failure. . The flaunting flag of progress Is in the West unfurled. Her son. . And if Dame Fortune frowned Our swags we'd lightly shoulder And tramp to other ground. . as in the sketch "Crime in the Bush. As Louisa Lawson discovered. . left memorable pictures also of how a man's life in the bush could easily turn sour and mateship turn to snarling enmity. there are hundreds of out-of-the-way places in the nearer bush of Australia-hidden away in unheard-of 'pockets' in the ranges. whom he mocked as "The City Bushman. . Let Banjo Paterson do that. There are things done in the bush (where large families. or stringybark flats--where families live for generations in mental darkness almost inconceivable in this enlightened age and country. . life in the roaring days of the goldfields or among the shearers of the vast sheep regions offered few satisfactions to women. up at the ends of long.All through the roaring days! . Oh. These places need to be humanized. they were of the stoutest sons From all the lands on earth! Ah. who drew that archetypical picture. pig together in ignorance in badly- . And altered is the scene. of how whole families could fall into abandoned degradation. Lawson was too much of a realist. they were lion-hearted Who gave our country birth! Oh. too many women confronted vacant horizons and unforgiving skies in rounds of dreary. to leave the idea of mateship wholly enveloped in a pleasant. Like the drover's wife. The mighty bush with iron rails Is tethered to the world. however. Out of his familiarity with extremes Lawson constructed a literary dark side to bush life and its mateship that nicely complemented the loneliness of the drover's wife. and away out on God-forsaken 'box'. Some of this he attempted in satiric verse aimed at Banjo Paterson. But golden days are vanished. . The camping-grounds are green. dark gullies. The other side of comfort is discomfort.
twice the size of our home town of Ann Arbor. Newcastle is not a big city. and by the sovereignty of the Crown. by custom. First settled by Europeans as a penal colony for Irish incorrigibles from Sydney. eight years after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove. came abruptly face to face with Victorian facades and iron grillwork as we turned the corners of a modern city. The opposition was partially resolved by the absence of prisons in and around Sydney. its inhabitants nurse with particular poignancy an awareness that their local pride of acomplishment dims in the long shadow cast from Sydney. plowing. or even fancy that he has a decided liking for you. to preserve peace after Castle Hill. and later others . The colony at Sydney was founded as a solution to a problem festering in England after the American Revolution removed transportation to Georgia as a viable option for its convict system. Although some convicts were transported to Sydney for crimes that criminal systems today would call trivial. Convicts and free men. the English discovered outcroppings of coal near the mouth of an unexplored river to the north. We read history in stories that brought life to social conditions we recognized in the present. developing the new country in wholesome liberty. we heard the echo of picks and shovels from abandoned coal mines under our feet. too far away to claim equal partnership in the larger city's achievements. An optimist might hope for better lives for these people in a new country. or to schoolteachers--mere lads. cutting. Conditions were crude. going through their martyrdom in such places--and to girl-teachers too. the authorities needed a place to send the insurgents. . Like a microcosm of the larger Australia. The romance of the bush? Mateship? The Australian psyche remains as divided on these points as the lands on either side of the Great Dividing Range that confronted the first settlers a few miles from the shores where they landed. the majority were habitual offenders who knew no other way of life in their eighteenth-century world. Settling In at Newcastle The blue hills of the Great Dividing Range beckoned each morning from our front window on Macquarie Street. iconographic images of the nearness of the Australian past. Still. and be under the impression that you are on the best of terms with him. In 1804. Newcastle has a history tied to convicts. You might be mates with a man in the bush for months. Convicts served their terms like indentured servants. but others might hold reasonable doubts. things which would make a strong man shudder. God forgive us!--or even to the police. it is distinguished by divided attitudes. . many in England sought to construct in this new world that Captain Cook discovered a colony of free men and women. we visited astonishing reminders of nature's obstinance against humanity's insistance. . linked to Mother England by commerce. Concurrently. . and planting for their masters.partitioned huts) known well to neighbors. Walking about our city. punishment was swift and cruel: floggings of 100 and 200 strokes were common. 1. With its quarter of a million people. twenty miles outside Sydney. In the absence of barred lock-ups. They hoped to become free men and women. Either way. . The uprising and its resolution gave point to one of the many dualities inherent in the British presence in New South Wales. Newcastle is too close to Sydney's spreading metropolis to achieve a wholly separate identity. Among them. In June 1796. . until . . to coal. the Coal River site was selected as a penal colony and named Newcastle. and to the fertile valley of the Hunter River.000 not unheard of. it is the second most populous in New South Wales. building. he is capable of turning on you at any moment of the day or night and doing you to death. In short drives from home. and yet he might brood over some fancied slight or injury . Sydney is ten times its size. punishment and opportunity: these were not always complementary goals. when Irish convicts staged an uprising at Castle Hill. Soldiers kept order.
Ninety years later. Catholic claimant to a Protestant throne. the outlying districts between us and the University of Newcastle. on weekdays. Their sense of political martyrdom was rooted in the fact that over a quarter of them were transported under riot and sedition laws rather than for theft. Because Hunter Street runs close to the river. Before returning home. And there were Scotsmen in Sydney. A significant number of convicts transported to Sydney Cove did not fit the profile of the criminal underclass from slums in London. Twain's one street is now Hunter Street. most of his followers were freed to return to work. most of Newcastle spreads in neighborhoods and subdivisions to its south. On Sundays. the Gold Coast. it sounds both self-deprecating and proud. several other distinct neighborhoods spread over the flats below us. or over the mountains to Gulgong or into the New England tablelands. near the Ocean. but freedom fighters. and chains. where a good many dead people have accumulated since Twain's time. prostitution. Against an Anglican ruling class. Whether or not there are gentlemen within it. "was founded by convicts too hardened for Sydney. and the Great Barrier Reef. Barbara and I had accepted an invitation to lecture at James Cook University in Townsville. thronged at almost any time of day or night. further west. Newcastle is still not Sydney. and pikes. they listened to services of the Church of England that were designed to turn them from their alien Popery. an expression of Irish revolutionary fervor fueled by the success of the American and French revolutions. Yes. They hoped to raise another 300 and march on Sydney in pursuit of liberty. breaking and entering. It didn't happen. He was an Irishman who earned his sentence of transportation in the 1798 rebellion. these first Newcastle settlers owed no loyalty to Sydney. or others of the more simple and traditional crimes against persons and property. they constructed a prison. with stone walls. Repeated by an inhabitant of Newcastle. over 2. when Mark Twain visited Newcastle he described it as a city of one street. It becomes the Pacific Highway and picks up various other names as it traverses several districts within Newcastle to arrive at an immense cemetery at Sandgate. is not the simple case of crime and punishment the previous brief summary seems to suggest. or Manchester. but in July of 1989 our China plans seemed . they mined coal or cut cedar as forced contributions to the financial growth of the Crown colony they had attempted to overthrow. At Newcastle. men and women for whom the pipes of 1745 still echoed their fateful call to arms as the Highland clans swept toward London in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie. and. with a cemetery at one end that contained no dead people and a Gentlemen's Club at the other end that contained no gentlemen. near the Great Barrier Reef." people will tell you today. too. bars. but it nevertheless has a Twainian ring to it.000 had been shipped from Ireland. Hardened criminals or determined freedom fighters. Johnston and other leaders were hanged. Birmingham. By 1804. You also take it to head west up the Hunter River Valley toward the wineries. killing some and putting the rest to flight. William Johnston led the Castle Hill uprising. In 1804 at Castle Hill he raised an army of over 300 men and armed them with guns. There. and there is a Gentlemen's Club on a side street near its east end. swords. Twain omits the comment from the Australian segment of Following the Equator. From this end. you may detect a note of prideful identification with those early hard cases. In addition to our teaching at Newcastle. it is dwarfed by the nearby Workers' Club. Newcastle has become more than the sleepy town Twain saw. At least that is what we were told. many of these Irishmen considered themselves not criminals at all. you take this street to travel north toward Queensland. Unlike Cockney pickpockets. Hunter Street follows the Hunter River inland. Descending our hill at Merewether we possessed a panoramic view of the area near the mouth of the Hunter where the convicts first lived. A detachment of twenty-five soldiers quickly defeated the insurgents. but his description retains an element of truth. we also planned to lecture at universities in the People's Republic of China. highway robbery. "Newcastle. they stood firm in their Roman Catholicism and Irish patriotism. From the center of Newcastle." If you listen carefully. and these carried with them their historical antipathy to the English.counted as the worst of their kind. and thirty-four were sent to the penal colony hastily prepared at Newcastle. The story of Newcastle's first settling. like some other stories of empire and colonization.
when the University of Peking would begin its fall semester. As Americans in Australia. Unfortunately. but the strong possibility of that happening raised serous questions about international flights. Australians are attempting to forge a relationship with the Orient that satisfies their sense of . and wouldn't want to travel after sixty? The voucher rate of about $540 roundtrip to Townsville had to be set against a possible $800 after the expiration date. It was seven years old and had logged 90. In July. and the Great Barrier Reef. We conquered it with electric blankets.jeopardized by the repressions of student demonstrations that June in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In addition to finding our way around Newcastle. The situation we would encounter at the end of September was wholly unpredictable. Laura. a junior at the University of Massachusetts. just graduated from Hampshire College. Our "Foreign Expert" letters. It was hard to read between the lines. it performed admirably for four months and 10. After Tiananmen Square our position as "Foreign Experts" bristled with uncertainty. Suzanne. with classes to begin on the tenth. If it did begin. Renting a car proved out of the question. since long-term rates from the agencies did not drop appreciably from the $75 Australian that Avis charged per day.700. the oldest of our three.000 kilometers. The cold in a drafty house constructed more to ward off 110 degree summer heat than to protect against winter chills was unexpected. China posed additional difficulties. extra heaters. When we left we sold it for more than we had paid. Meanwhile. Australia had not terminated diplomatic relations with China. were designed to win us easy visa approval. Another daughter. and sweaters. In the end we bought a car for $3. Our daughter Alison. The tickets had to be paid for by August second. Even that couldn't be obtained without a trip to Sydney. A Holden Gemini that seated five. the airline flying most domestic routes. we had five full days to settle in. we had a number of logistic details to arrange in order to make full use of the next few months.000 for four tickets. international relations with China turned chilly. Expecting guest rooms in university lodgings and help with travel. we couldn't possibly find time to do that and return to Newcastle in time to finish the semester. was enrolled for a semester at the University of Newcastle. Arriving on July fourth. we traveled in the first month not far from Newcastle while we tried to untangle webs of tourist opportunities and restrictions. we booked a flight to Townsville near the end of August. we were pleased with letters dated after June fourth that affirmed the welcome awaiting us. we thought. Still. The map seemed to suggest that it would make sense to fly from Townsville to Cairns and from Cairns to Hong Kong. Moral questions arose. Would our travel to China in the fall of 1989 be construed as support for a repressive government? Would staying away signify failure of nerve at a time when the academics who invited us--people. remained at work in California. To save $1. had postponed her graduate study at Harvard to be with us for the trip. we were not expected in China until late September. We did that by discovering ways to keep warm in an astonishingly cold house. Even more to the point. we were tangled in issues for which a wholly American response seemed not quite right. officially stamped in China. but only if we purchased tickets within thirty days of arrival and completed travel within sixty. That would give us Queensland. but we were disconcerted to see no reference to events the letters seemed to assume had happened only in the fevered imaginations of Western observers. we would see more of the country and also save money by paying People's Republic rates to fly to Beijing from Guangzhou. James Cook University. Settled.000 kilometers. and by finding a car we could trust to get us to and from the university with stamina left over for longer trips into the countryside. Vouchers from Qantas offered discounts on Ansett. Entering China at that point. there was no certainty the United States would continue to encourage or even allow American citizens to enter China. As far as we could tell from Australia. but would join us later. Was it some bureaucrat's idea that visitors would have no money left after thirty days for airline tickets. who represented China's best hope for the future--needed continued support of colleagues in the West? Our decision seemed nicely complicated by our situation. breakfast in a kitchen at 54 degrees Fahrenheit takes getting used to.
nationhood and geography. They cannot ignore their closeness to people, cultures, and histories far different from their own. We assumed we would go. Meanwhile, we had Australia to absorb. Koalas came first. In Blackbutt Reserve in Newcastle, we discovered a zoo with three sleepy koalas in the crotches of trees, huddled against the cold. We walked around the cage, craning to see into the shadows where they curled upon themselves near the roof, hoping they would awake and clamber down into the light. Aside from a sleepy stretching of a leg, a half-turn of a head, and a return to the huddle, they remained somnolent. Elsewhere, emus in a wire cage held heads high or lowered them to peck at the dirt. They were protected by the cage, a railing, and an ominous sign, "Beware the Emus." Nearby, wallabies and kangaroos, some very small and others four or five feet tall, sat, slept, or hopped on immense feet and heavy tails. The most interesting exotic birds were the sulfur-crested cockatoos. White, parrot-like, a foot and a half in length, they owe their names to the showy yellow feathers that bristle on the tops of their heads. Noisy birds, endowed with a parrot squawk of a decibel level guaranteed to gain attention, they learn to talk with a wonderful clarity to their scratchy voices. One of them held us in rapt coversation. "Hello." "What are you doing?" "What's the matter with you?" "Who's the naughty boy?" These were his clearest phrases. Whether he was puzzled by our behavior ("What are you doing?") or our unfamiliar accents ("What's the matter with you?") or whether we displeased him ("Who's the naughty boy?), we couldn't be sure. At first our "Hello" elicited only his "Hello" in return. After a few of these hello's, disgusted with our paucity of vocabulary, he would return "What's the matter with you?" We tried "Polly want a cracker?" This brought another "What's the matter with you?" "What's your name," we asked. "Squawkawkawksquawk." Hmmmn. "All right, Squawkawkawksquawk. What have you got to say for yourself?" "Hello?" A question this time. "Why don't the koalas come down from their trees?" "What's the matter with you?" Nothing that we knew of. We tried again. "How do you like it in your cage?" "Who's the naughty boy?" "Not us," we said, pointing at him without getting fingers too close to his formidable beak.
"What are you doing?" He had us stumped. "Polly want a cracker?" we asked again. Each of us wanted to see what responses we got. It seemed that he responded differently to different vocal tones, different inflections, different faces or bodies confronting him as he scrambled by beak and claw up and down the wire mesh of his cage. Tiring of one speaker, he would stretch his wings, grab the cage again, and scramble to confront another. Flexing his sulfur crest and turning his head from side to side, he would fix the new person first with one piercing eye and then the other. "Polly want a cracker?" "Squawkawkawksquawk." An Aboriginal term? Place names on an Australian map fascinate with repetition? New South Wales contains a Gin Gin, Gol Gol, Kurri Kurri, Millaa Millaa, Mitta Mitta, and Walla Walla. Repetition with variation gives Buddabadah, Coombogolong, Currabubula, and Wollongong. We entertained the idea that Squawkawkawksquawk might be a parodic imitation from a bird with a wicked sense of humor. "What's your name?" we asked again. "What's the matter with you?" He began to sound impatient. "Squawk," he said, "Squawk." It seemed more like a complaint than an answer. "Polly want a cracker?" This from Suzanne. "Who's the naughty boy?" Now he was definitely impatient, and careless with gender. Like many texts, his discourse remained wonderfully open to conflicting interpretations and a theorist might have observed in it a textbook example of indeterminacy. There were dialogic undercurrents in his monologic raspings. Eventually we tired of the game and walked on. But he was far from tired. When we turned our backs, he threw up an ear-splitting clamor, like an author whose text has been incompetently reviewed. Shrieks and sqawks filled the air, and were accompanied with wing flappings, claw clenchings, and mad scrambles up and down the wires of the cage. This was the image of Fury, in no matter what language. And this time we got the message. "Leave without feeding me?" was the easy translation of his shrieks and flutterings. "You Squawkawkawksquawks." We looked for food. Our pockets and purses proved empty of anything a cockatoo might eat. There were no coin machines dispensing zoo food. Concession stands stood closed. Waste receptacles contained no leftovers from other peoples' lunches; in midwinter there were few people in the park. Trees had dropped no edible fruits or nuts on the pathways. Finally Suzanne found a dried piece of orange peel on the edge of the grass, but our crested friend tossed it away with a disdainful flip of his beak. "What's the matter with you? Squawkawk." We left with his denunciations ripping through the gum trees and ringing in our ears long after we had passed from sight. "Squawkawkawksquawks! Squawkawkawksquawks!" Sulfur-crested cockatoos were common in Newcastle, but the ones that flew in substantial numbers around the campus of the university seemed innocent of human speech. When they squawked as we
walked to class, their comments seemed not directed at us. When a "Squawkawkawksquawk" from a tree outside our classroom interrupted comments on J. D. Salinger or James Merrill we chose to ignore the possibility of meaning. The convict miners of coal in Newcastle began a prosperous industry that eventually honeycombed the earth under the city. Today abandoned shafts face the ocean from cliffs along the shore. Driving around the area, we learned not to be surprised by "Subsidence Ahead" signs warning of dips in the road caused by the tunnels underneath. Occasionally we caught a glimpse of an elevator shaft with a grimy wooden tower and immense wheels, a railroad siding, and a tipple still in use, and a rusted chain-link fence erected to keep children and animals from falling into the pits or playing in the sulphurous waste dumps. Cardiff, the name of a major suburb of Newcastle, suggests the early presence of Welsh miners, probably imported for their skills and lured by the promise of a better life as the convict penal system began to wane. The current size and prosperity of the Cardiff Workers' Club suggests an ethos still closely connected with muscle and brawn, and raucous, beery times off. Further up the valley from the city, evidence of massive strip mining lies mostly out of sight behind the hills that line the roads. Huge conveyor belts run for miles from pit to storage and transportation facilities. Much of this was familiar to us from western Pennsylvania, where Barbara began her life as a coal miner's daughter. In Newcastle we chose not to inspect the mines, seeking in limited time to find sights we would find more distinctively Australian. From Newcastle's mines came its industry. Broken Hill Proprietary, Australia's largest company, was founded in 1885 to exploit silver and lead deposits at Broken Hill, in the Outback at the far western edge of New South Wales. When BHP took advantage of the coal and harbor to roll its first steel out of its new mills at Newcastle in 1915, it gave a lift to twentieth-century industrialization in Australia. By the mid1930s, BHP monopolized iron and steel production at home, and by the end of the decade it emerged as a major supplier in the world market. By the late 1980's the firm was exploring trade possibilities with a mainland Chinese government newly receptive to joint ventures²and in our brief time there, Tiananmen Square raised series questions about that and similar initiatives that promised to increase Australia's ties to a Pacific Rim economy. Supported by coal and steel, Newcastle developed as a center for associated heavy industry, building railroad cars, warships, and container vessels, and for other industrial products that included glass, chemicals, and fertilizers. It was lights from those industries that sparkled in the night sky as we looked from our hill over the city, past the coal-loading docks to Kooragang Island. Heavy industry, ship-building, and ship-loading were as familiar to us, however, as coal-mining, for my father was a boilermaker at the Boston Navy Yard. Visits to the dockside could wait. Between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley as it stretched away from the city, Australians enacted an emblematic version of a national drama: the conflict between the dream of a pastoral and the reality of an industrial life. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, they came from small and crowded communities to a continent that stretched in endless promise over limitless horizons. Convicts burrowed into the ground in search of coal and dreamed of a life of fresh air and sunlight, with no chains or nightly lock-up. Up river, and just a little later, the first free settlers came to farm. Coal was king in Newcastle. In the rest of the Hunter Valley, it was the soil. After early explorers discovered some of the richest Australian soil lying along the sides of the Hunter, pressure for removal of the convicts and for free settlement began. In 1820, Newcastle's population of under a thousand people included 850 convicts. When the Crown decided to move the convicts further north, first to Port Macquarie and then to Brisbane, areas considered less desirable for settlement, opportunities arose in the Hunter region. By the end of the 1820s, Newcastle served as an entry point to settlements that stretched up the river to hold 4,000 people. These early pastoralists cut cedar, prepared
and imported the vines that established the Hunter Valley as a premier wine-making region. At Sandgate it is easy to imagine the cemetery when it had no people in it. Three stories high. however. was established in 1828. Highways suddenly turn to country roads. By 1989 over forty wineries in the valley cultivated together over 7. a slow. The winery that became Wyndham Estate. the land when it was no cemetery. but the Neath Hotel retains the virtue of isolation against an open landscape and blue sky. you soon sense time spun backwards. you imagine that commerce between Newcastle and Maitland was not always easy not long ago. a winding and sometimes steep way over the Sugarloaf Range. with one slender pane resting on top of another. Originally coal towns. a spectacular image from an older Australia. raised cattle and sheep. both preserve semblances of time arrested around the turn of the century and some coal is still mined nearby. Between the two lies Neath. Before there must have been only the drover's stringybark hut. By either route.the earth for planting. Heading west out of Newcastle on the Pacific Highway. or that squat inn shaded by iron-laced verandas. There is a fine one at Kurri Kurri. Now the bush closes in as gum trees thicken the view for the twelve or fifteen kilometers that take you to Kurri Kurri. which you do not leave until you turn left on John Renshaw Drive. On the third story. At one time it possessed the deepest shaft mine in the southern hemisphere. around the windows. The raised roadbed tells you this is floodland. is the first sustantial shelter to occupy its small space between sky and earth. A spiny echidna waddles along a grassy margin. for the roof lies mostly hidden behind the hotel's vertical face. On your right the river runs high and to your left a few horses wander over the ineffectively drained Hexam Swamp. Broad fields where few cattle or sheep graze scant fodder turn quickly into extensive areas of bush. the road running most directly to the wine district. beautiful drive. Cessnock began about 1850 as a junction on the old road from Sydney into the Hunter Valley. Kurri Kurri was settled a few years later. and macadam to gravel or dirt. is about an hour's drive from Merewether. Australia's oldest still operating. If you lack luck. The open country beyond seems not far removed from nature. With luck. This is still highway. the Neath Hotel survives as a type of the crossroads hotel spawned by the necessities of travel in an earlier day in New South Wales. The two lower . Framed by a few gum trees. at Kurri Kurri you are still ten kilometers from Cessnock. There is another way to Kurri Kurri. and along the roof line. the Aborigine's mia-mia. but its recent presence looms unexpectedly on country drives. Imagination easily turns automobiles into horses tied to the veranda's supporting posts. Many such hotels still stand.500 acres of vineyards. constructed of red brick. traffic even on this narrow road presses on at 100 or more kph. or the over-arching limbs of the gum trees that have rustled their blue-green leaves here since time immemorial. The Outback may have receded further back and out. You can leave Newcastle through Cardiff and discover George Booth Drive. where gum trees line the highway. One of Australia's great attractions is the sense of distinctly different yesterdays that palpitates in the air everywhere outside the few cities. On the Maitland road now. and two or three cars pulled up next to the east veranda. with less traffic. heavily wooded. indifferently maintained tarmac surface you travel over. These combine with a center arch to produce a strong horizontal line against the sky. We took our first of several trips to the lower Hunter Vineyards on our third Saturday in Australia. certain to lie under water when the rains come. memorable for the Neath Hotel. a gravel parking area. speeds that seem too fast for the twolane. the explorer's tent. white caps crown each corner and the pillars on either side of the windows. double hung. Windows are tall and narrow. it is generously faced with white at its corners. long before you could drive here in less than an hour from Newcastle. the gateway to the region. Ceilings are high within. Cessnock. slits to allow some light to enter and to simultaneously keep out much of the burning summer sun. you have left most traffic behind. Homes and public buildings appear primal: surely this iron-roofed farmhouse.
with no haughty stairs to climb. and sit for a while. and these in turn are supported by the six identical uprights at each side of the center entrance on the veranda below.stories recede behind the shadows of the wide verandas that surround the building. and a restaurant. G'day. the woodwork. From the top of each upright there fans out a pair of white iron braces. These places were not designed for an upper-class clientele. The structure as a whole broadcasts an open invitation to enter. paved. along a wide circle of connecting roads with intriguing jogs to the side. and in 5 minutes were in Cessnock." the advertisement reads. THE NEATH HOTEL is announced in green lettering against the white surface of a third-level corner cut to face oncoming traffic. The hotel advertises in glossy brochures for the Hunter region distributed by the Tourism Commission of New South Wales. mate. Seeking the Mount View Winery. Allendale Road and Mount View Road branch from Main Street toward most of the area's wineries. They hardly seem to imagine such a class exists. Near the town center an information booth provides maps. you drive a kilometer or two along Mount View Road. we drove on. and trim are sagebrush green. On the veranda levels. and along the upper veranda there runs an ornamental railing of Australia's common iron lace. Such a hotel has a bar. as a sign here announces on the first level. We found none more handsome in the Australian crossroads way in our later travels. should there be any. but reach out to all comers in the broad spirit of working-class equality. The board floor of the lower veranda lies nearly at street level so that it serves passing foot traffic. . What'll it be? There will be good Australian beers and wines served and customers these days will include tourists as well as miners and vineyard workers. as a sidewalk out of the sun.´Newly Renovated Bedrooms * Restaurant * 2 Bars * Beer Garden * Counter Lunches * Convention facilities * Group and school booking catered for * Reasonable tariffs * 5 mins from Cessnock * 10 mins to the Hunter Valley Vineyards. Near the center of that town. order a companionable draft. If the Neath Hotel had been farther from Newcastle we would have stayed. A sloping iron roof on the upper veranda shelters both levels from sun and rain. an inviting transition from sunny outside to shady interior. On the side facing the street another sign extends from the lace railing to announce NEATH HOTEL: ACCOMMODATIONS. "Neath Hotel: Guest House. pillars. A complete tour takes a visitor out one of these roads. close to town and a fine example of a small family enterprise. and back on the other. Nevertheless. Six narrow wooden uprights support the roof on each side of the second-story veranda. then turn left on an unsealed dirt washboard of a road.
Here we saw our first yellow "Kangaroo Crossing" sign, which we were told was neither a joke nor a tourist attraction. A mob of thirty of forty wild kangaroos wanders the field and bush nearby and some hop across the road, usually around dawn or dusk. The sign marks a particularly dangerous place, with bush on one side and a curve ahead. These are big kangaroos, growing to four or five feet in height. Nobody wants to hit an animal that size, and it can be distressing to have one hop on top of your car--a feat they easily manage. Later we learned of the unpredictability of kangaroos. Drivers must always slow when they appear, for although they may be hopping safely on the side of the road, these not especially bright animals may suddenly decide to hop sideways in front of you. Many cars sport roo bars, heavy metal extensions projecting upward from their front bumpers. Near the Kangaroo Crossing sign, a long dirt driveway leads up the hill to the Mount View Winery, a low brick home and a few outbuildings. The view from the front yard is splendid. Behind the house a fairly steep mountain rises, mantled with green woodlands, and gently curving where its top meets the blue of the sky. The brown fields of winter fall away down the hill with not much evidence of vineyards, though their green will come later. In the wine-tasting room we were the only visitors, and were served by the wife of the owner, a thirdgeneration Hunter Valley winemaker. The wine, she said, was the family's sole support. We selected and purchased a bottle of an inexpensive and fruity white, but knew it would take many visitors of our kind to keep a winery solvent. Seeing no evidence of material luxury about the place, we did not underestimate the luxury of the view, the outdoor life, and the pleasures of independence in a life grown into since childhood, known to parents and grandparents, and passed down, with luck, to children and grandchildren. Hunter Valley wineries, our hostess told us, have been generally less effective at promotion than wineries in other parts of Australia. Some in the Hunter area are hugely successful, but taken all together they produce only about 5% of the total for an enormously thirsty country. Nearly half of that comes from the Cessnock area. Many of the wineries serve gentleman farmers as hobbies or tax write-offs. For many, government regulations cause problems. Because wineries are taxed on stock in hand, for example, many cannot afford the increase in their stock necessary if they are to lay up wine from year to year. She and her husband don't lay up. For aged wines we would have to go to a much larger winery. She suggested McWilliam's, nearby. McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Winery, a little further out on Mount View Road, commands a view of fields and mountains much like those at Mount View. We arrived too late on our first trip for the tours run there, but not too late to taste wines from the 1970s and early 1980s. A 1982 Semillon proved attractive enough to tempt us to buy three bottles and we added one of a 1983 red identified as O.P. and O.H. Hermitage (Old Pack and Old Hill, the source of the grapes). A later trip brought us to Tyrrell's Winery at Pokolbin, still farther along the continually beautiful road. During our stay we became great fans of their Long Flat Red, which Murray Tyrrell describes on the label as "a light, full flavoured wine made from Hermitage, Cabernet and Malbec grapes. It is named after our Long Flat Vineyard which always makes full, soft, easy to drink reds." He doesn't point out that Tyrrell's Long Flat Red is a remarkably inexpensive wine, an important consideration in a country where people drink as though they expected each glass to be the last before a long, flat, as well as a hot, dusty, and flybitten, trek across a countryside with no grapes, no grape vines, and certainly no wines in sight to a potentially dry water hole. On the astonishing Australian thirst, Ross Terrill, a native, writes: It is quite usual for people lunching in the business districts of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney to drink a bottle of wine each, and for those in Queensland and Western Australian towns to drink a quart of beer with each lunch. . .
When a couple or a group of friends go to a BYO²a bring-your-own-drinks restaurant²they carry as hand luggage a cask or several bottles of wine, or a nest of bottles of the strong, bitter Australian beer. The first order of business, at lunch hardly less than at dinner, is to deploy the various bottles and casks and cans; it is like arranging luggage in a train compartment at the start of a long trip. Some of our friends seemed more temperate than Terrill's. Still they consumed a good deal more than most Americans. At lunch at the University of Newcastle Faculty Club, one bottle of wine might do for two or even three people, but largely because visiting Americans don't always keep up their end. A dinner for six to eight people would invariably leave six or eight bottles of wine standing empty before the coffee was poured. Drunk driving is a problem recognized not long before our arrival by tighter legislation. "Do you know," said one of our faculty friends, "as few as three or four glasses of wine can get you cited for drunk driving if the police decide to stop you?" His voice betrayed a what-is-this-worldcoming-to amazement. The phenomenon of Australian drinking, another friend explained, is owing to the water. Always in short supply, it is in many places unfit for human consumption, though the livestock drink it. As a consequence, he said, Australians grow up on wine and beer as water substitutes. Consuming it like mother's milk, they learn to down great quantities without getting drunk. And so it often appeared to us when, at the end of a long evening, the heaviest drinkers seemed scarcely less lucid than at the beginning. Visiting wineries is a popular holiday. Most are generous in pouring, though some will not uncork expensive wines for free tasting, and instead set up special tastings by invitation for these. Nobody pays for the privilege of tasting, since the wine sold, frequently by the case, more than makes up for the free glasses set out. Since the Hunter Valley has become a tourist area, some of the proprietors have established facilities hardly reminiscient of old Australia. The old persists in places on Broke Road in Pokolbin, but there also the Hungerford Hill Wine Village operates as a veritable wine theme park. Hungerford Hill's tasting shed is equipped to handle the hundreds of people at a time who arrive there by the busload. The Village boasts a 54 unit motor inn, a convention center, a tennis court, farmer's market, French restaurant, children's playground, and gallery of gifts and souvenirs. On our visit on a slow day the barman was clearly bored with the effort of serving a crowd so small. It was a far cry from the personal service of the woman owner of Mount View. Not far away, Lindeman's captures the space between small and traditional and large and hucksterish. A video display illustrating today's wine-making process is supplemented by a museum of antique winemaking equipment. Everywhere in the region the fields and forests sparkle with a promise that coaxes you down the road, around the bend, and over the next rise. Lomas Road, off Allendale, leads away from most of the wineries and runs a couple of kilometers of unsealed and dusty washboard to Rusa Deer Park, a private zoo with a prominent hand-painted sign: VENISON FOR SALE. Deer are exotic animals in Australia. People expressed wonder that apparently civilized people live in a Michigan wilderness where DEER CROSSING is as common a roadside legend as their KANGAROO CROSSING or KOALA CROSSING. Apparently their idea of deer so common as to constitute road hazards became crossed with visions of primeval forests, log cabins, pioneers in buckskin carrying long rifles, and savages lurking behind trees²images they knew could not be very accurate. Of course, "Michigan" itself required explanation. Explained as an Indian word, it immediately becomes understandable, analogous to Kurri Kurri or Wollombi. Although we purchased no venison at Rusa Deer Park, more than once we stopped there to visit the koala, greet the owner again, and see how the baby fawn was progressing. On our first visit, the proprietor invited us into his home so that Suzanne and Alison could feed the fawn from a baby bottle. It was still tiny and wobbly-legged. He was raising it in his house because July was too cold for its kind outdoors.
His special interest, he said, was to help preserve certain rare deer endangered in the wild of the countries they came from. His zoo and his selling of venison were ways of funding a private ecological mission. Despite the quirky disparity between saving some deer while butchering others, we saw, as we had at the Mount View winery, a sturdy Australian independence at work. Most of his small acreage he set aside as runs for deer and antelope, and, separately, for kangaroos and wallabies. His aviaries included the familiar sulfur-crested cockatoos, by now equally familiar galahs (cockatoos that flutter in rosy flocks, sometimes endangering highway traffic, their name a synonym for "fool" in Australia), and other varieties of Australian winged color. Their keeper encouraged visitors to experience the animals directly. Once we entered the high enclosure that limited the range of the kangaroos within the park, smaller fences served primarily to set off walkways and were not intended to discourage the animals from cadging food from visitors. They ate from our hands, licking our palms to get the last bits, and holding our wrists with their paws to prevent our pulling away should we prove squeamish about wet tongues. Deer and antelope were more skittish, though within their range, too, a few would come forward for food. In the aviary, we fed the birds from small containers, and left through double doors designed to keep the birds inside. Rusa Deer Park was a homey place, like visiting a friend with a lot of pets. A careless friend, perhaps, or one with a great deal of faith in the common sense of his visitors. The highly venomous red-bellied snake inhabited an enclosure with a concrete wall less than three feet high. A curious person could easily step over it if he wanted to, but we didn't want to. A similar enclosure nearby held several Australian skinks. Their round, toad-like heads were attached without apparent necks to bodies of similar roundness that in turn became fat, round tails resembling heads of toads. Since their eyes and mouth were not prominent, it was impossible to tell which direction they were headed until they moved. A sign informed us that their tails earned their round fatness as vessels for food storage. Although they were only about a foot in length, we were unsure of their defensive habits and declined the invitation to pet them implicitly extended by the low wall. With the koala we had no such hesitation. When we got to his pen, we were told, we were welcome to lift the latch and enter. We need only make sure the door was fastened again when we left. Mostly he slept, perched in the crotch of a gum tree, much like the koalas in Newcastle. Close enough to the ground to be petted, he didn't seem to mind the attention, but opened his eyes just long enough to examine the intruders before contentedly closing them again. We visited him several times. On rare occasions he would clamber to a lower branch to eat eucalyptus leaves from our hands.
which is distinguished from others by the circumstances of its composition. this kind of novel captures a culture on the cusp of great change. Lawson came late to the gold rushes of Australia." to alter Wordsworth's formula for poetry. Such novels differ from other historical works in the closeness of the writer to the time depicted. The trilogy abounds with the dualities of perspective and loyalty natural to Australians. A nation is born. may find themselves puzzled by The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. hardship. or. 'tis Sixty Years Since is the great original for this kind of novel. he had recklessly omitted to slab the walls of a drive: uprights and tailors yielded under . koalas and gum trees seem emblematic of the inescapable ties between the Australian land and its inhabitants. where the genius of Henry Lawson was forged in a countryside mad for gold. and he wrote in a country that had already felt their strong effects." She expressed them in a family epic consisting of three complex and subtle novels. Significant large events alter ordinary lives. for they began almost twenty years before his birth. and whose "fortunes" paralleled in significant ways the fortunes of Australians generally. Even more than convicts and coal or free settlers and wine. For focus. Against Henry Lawson's and Banjo Paterson's portrait of Australian mates in the Outback. in the Australia of their parents. but to grasp them he must give up much of what he holds most dear in English civilization. its "emotion imagined in tranquility. whose emphasis turns from the externals of the plot to the internal lives of the characters. Together. we learned later that they live in a continual stupor induced by narcotics in the leaves they eat. Myths supporting a cultural identity are shaped. The gold gave rise to experiences best told by a woman who wrote a generation later under the pseudonym "Henry Handel Richardson. however. Melbourne better. To the novel of the immediate past as defined early in the nineteenth century. the period from 1850 to 1870 when events crucial to the identity of modern Australia were unfolding. however. but opportunity lies in goldfields and bush. Australia Felix appeared in 1917. Eureka Stockade and The Fortunes of Richard Mahony In the wine country. and so the cycle of colonial promise and disappointment begins again. and begins with a proem emphasizing sudden death. a people defined. All between chronicles determined efforts to escape the experience of Australia so represented. The late-nineteenth century Australian experience as depicted in his writings and those of Banjo Paterson--male-centered and bush-bound--is only a part of the story. the promise of enormous wealth. Sir Walter Scott's Waverley. born in 1864. Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson was roughly contemporary with Lawson. Richardson depicts a nation of city dwellers attempting to build under southern stars a life of European gentility. and the eternal presence of the land: In a shaft on the Gravel Pits. when London proves as intolerable as the Australian bush. He prefers cities. Richardson added the vision of later nineteenth and early twentieth-century novelists like George Eliot and Henry James. born in 1867. Richardson concentrated on the life of a doctor whose experiences were much like her father's. Australia Felix begins on a goldfield and Ultima Thule ends in the bush. as The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1930). Cooper's Leather-Stocking novels provide early American examples. Born in Melbourne in 1870. They differ from other realistic works in moving the writer's observation out of the present into the easily recoverable past. the mountains are backdrop. and Paterson.Assuming at first that koalas are nocturnal. Readers looking primarily for the epic sweep of Scott or Cooper. London better still²until he gets to London. Australia offers great opportunities to Richard. eternally watchful against the terrible possibility of going bush. She set her great work. The trilogy opens on the gold diggings at Ballarat. At work in the deep wet hole. however. they constitute one of the major achievements of Australian literature. A two or three hour drive into them takes you to Gulgong. Bush is intolerable. and Ultima Thule in 1929. Her resulting combination of cultural history and family saga marks The Fortunes of Richard Mahony as a major fiction of its time. At its best. The Way Home in 1925. a man had been buried alive.
Still. Bill and Jim are probably the names most common in the literature of the Australian bush (a satirical turn-of-the-century poem is titled "On the Prevalence of 'Bill' in Australian Literature") and Ballarat is the site of one of Australia's earliest and richest gold finds. mining continues on the fields. his ribs jammed against the pick.000 to nearly 500. individuals were allowed to control large land areas simply by occupying them with sheep ranches or wheat fields. but for himself. Richardson concludes the proem: . her breasts freely bared. to these. to mean more than 'home. burning in his breast. until then a part of New South Wales. This marked conflict between royal privilege and democratic ideals of free settlement was alleviated in part by the squatter system. The dead man's name is Bill. where the gold rush enlarged the population within eight years from 70. Convicts continued to be transported to that colony until 1840--and to Queensland and Western Australia for quite a while after that. But Richardson accomplishes something more than a period piece in her proem. and. In Ballarat alone in the decade of the 1850s the mines yielded gold worth 82 million pounds. Against this background Richardson unfolded the first part of her trilogy. and.' or wife. a revenge contrived by the ancient barbaric country they had so lightly invaded. . Richardson plunges us into a stereotypical Australia that is also historical. Now. ensorcelled²without witchcraft.000. most of the land in New South Wales continued in the possession of the Crown. counting both convicts and free settlers." he muses on his London past and his bleak future without the mining success he hoped to achieve with his mate. Wheat acreage doubled or tripled in the same period. Nevertheless. The system worked. bringing down the roof in its train. broke stupendous masses of earth. Ballarat lies 70 miles west and north of Melbourne. with a roar that burst his ear-drums. and the event. and the rotten earth collapsed. To encourage immigration. the relationship. The digger fell forward on his face. . The 1830s accelerated the shift. with a malignant eye. After Long Jim weeps "not for the dead man. As an encouragement to agriculture. his mate's name Long Jim. for their loveless schemes of robbing and fleeing. and over his defenceless body. became the separate colony of Victoria. with "all the hatred of the unwilling exile for the land that gives him house-room. she held them captive²without chains. After a detailed description. Australia's wool exports increased from two million pounds in 1830 to over twenty times that amount in 1850.the lateral pressure. nose and mouth pressed into the sticky mud as into a mask. lying stretched in the sun like some primeval monster. the glitter of a few specks at the bottom of pan or cradle came.000 in all of New South Wales. Such were the fates of those who succumbed to the "unholy hunger. The gold rush that began there in 1851 was one of the earliest and most famous among many in Australia that attracted prospectors from all over the world. With the names. by 1830 European inhabitants numbered only about 35. although such control did not give them ownership. or child. England granted substantial tracts of land to a few individuals. each lasting barely a generation. Australia's history prior to 1851 falls conveniently into two periods. and was not for sale. Squatters rose to wealth and influence. first of primarily convict and then of more mixed settlement. the efforts made by these puny mortals to tear their lips away." It was like a form of revenge taken on them. partly as a result of reform movements in England during that decade." Meanwhile. and he drowns his sorrows in drink. In 1851 the area of most of the activity. The emphasis on convicts that began in 1788 was already shifting to an emphasis on free settlement within the 1820s when the Crown began to encourage emigration designed to establish an economy more solidly based than that of convict labor. his arms pinned to his sides. she watched. . in time. A passion for the gold itself awoke in them an almost sensual craving to touch and possess.
dropping an occasional "h" did not seem a matter of consequence. in May 1851 Queen Victoria declared the Great Exposition open. There's no poverty here to distress us. sparsely settled continent. In talk between a lord and a laborer. Such dreams of the national future were forever changed by the discovery of gold. City gentry could not keep or hire household servants when poor folk headed for the diggings. saw their holdings trampled and torn by the work of the diggers. Chinese. These home-grown diggers were joined by men from all over the world. A poem in the Melbourne Argus in 1853 summarized the feelings of many: Hurrah for Australia Hurrah for Australia the golden. and eventually Australian revolutionists. but the discovery of gold effectively put an end to that. where prospectors had to get to St. No proud lords can ever oppress us. to their ideal of a classless society. all eager to try their luck in a land with 100 pound nuggets. what mattered was whether the hole or 'ole was producing pay dirt. or in Australia in the days before 1851. however. In the bush. Diggers arrived in hordes. wealthy squatters lost their station hands and drovers to self-employment more attractive than herding sheep. The distances were such that. and others lost almost as quickly in failed mining ventures. Even small landholders. like the Lawsons. in July 1852. picking and shoveling side by side. and American forty-niners. 'Tis the country of true liberty. For men within Australia this was an experience materially different from the American gold rush of 1849. Under the new circumstances. Aristocratic rulers and wealthy squatters joined in powerful opposition to the diggers. Louis first. stood as a shining symbol of the glorious promises of nineteenth-century science and industry. of course. Men threw down the tools of their trade and shouldered picks and shovels. Its Crystal Palace. the editor of the Sydney Empire wrote in July 1851.By 1850 Australia was solidly dedicated to a rapidly expanding economy built by the free men and women who would develop the agricultural potential of a vast. or planting wheat for someone else. running fences. In 1854 a telegraph line and a railway came to Melbourne. sustained by ironwork. Where men of all nations now toil. Italians. they could walk there. some in New South Wales had lobbied to continue the flow of convict labor as an aid to agriculture. A little over a year later. three months after the first discovery at Bathurst and four months before the strike at Ballarat. and also Irishmen. Earlier." With fortunes made at the turn of a shovel. One result was social upheaval. There were Englishmen. the first steamship puffed into Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay. Many were not all. then face two thousand miles of hard overland travel to California. it would be the height of folly to transport criminals "over the waves in prison ships to be bandit chiefs in the gold regions of New South Wales. and to the increasingly populous and industrialized . But here we're untrammelled and free. On the other side of the world. Germans. lured by visions of instant wealth and immediate social respectability. or else take to sea for the long voyage around Cape Horn or to the malaria-ridden walk across the Isthmus of Panama to look for a ship heading north. Many a "mister" appeared on the fields who would never have aspired to that title of respect at home in the old country. class-based social distinctions dissipated rapidly in the light of the raging fires of egalitarianism. To none will we e're be beholden Whilst we've strength to turn up the soil. The diggers began to think of themselves as the equals of anyone in this money-based society and they wanted to be treated so. The Australian gold fields were within a few days of Sydney or Melbourne. if necessary.
" Elected Commander-in Chief of the Ballarat Reform League. and apparently prosperous. Then came trouble. on the evening of November 30 he led the men in an oath of allegiance: "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other. . And in its worst form. It was a licensetax²license to work his claim²and it had to be paid before he could begin digging. Bagpipes skirled." Government troops and mounted police sent to Ballarat in anticipation of trouble were camped nearby. their numbers dwindled. whether or not he found any gold. signed petitions. For two days the revolutionaries worked to construct a defensive barricade with wooden slabs and mine props. "If a democrat means opposition to a tyrannical press. I am still. spoke defiantly of Thomas Paine's Rights of Man. "then I have been. from perhaps 2." he declared. were taxed. Men shouted their opposition to the Union Jack.country that seemed a likely legacy of the gold finds. Miners held meetings. many of whom refused to pay. At 30 shillings a month. One result was the hated license tax. and fight to defend out rights and liberties. The government swooped down with a mining tax. but upon what he was going to take out--if he could find it. however. In the same two days. at heavy expense.000 at the time of the oath to 150 by the morning of Sunday. Convicts who had earned their freedom chafed in righteous anger at the prospect of a return to chains. for a time. and that your time and your hard work have been thrown away. Your claim may be good. an Irishman barely two years in the colony. Pistol and rifle shots rang in the air. Veterans of the California goldfields scorned such treatment. and will ever remain a democrat. For Scottish Highlanders the days of 1745 remained a warm memory. neither the claim itself nor its products. There. Mark Twain visited Ballarat years later and drew on his own knowledge of American gold-mining to comment: Ballarat was a swarming city of tents in the early days. They sang The Marseillaise: "Aux armes citoyens. and then again you may have to dig and slave for half a year. Consider the situation. It may make you well off in a month. The immense precedents of the American and French Revolutions glinted everywhere like nuggets from a cliff-side outcropping. Peter Lalor. or a tyrannical government. such a thing was never dreamed of in America. too. . Germans and Italians on the gold fields had left countries just emerging from the popular revolutions of 1848-49. Much ill-will followed from the sight of diggers chained to trees or forced to labor on roads or other public works. Red ribbons of revolution fluttered from the hats of the audiences. 1854. hoisted the diggers' flag of the Southern Cross. Five soldiers and twenty-four diggers were killed. The battle of Eureka Stockade fought on that Sunday morning was over in minutes. wrote newspaper letters and editorials. another dozen . On posters nailed to gum trees they displayed cartoons of police harassing diggers along with slogans like "No chains for free Englishmen. for it was not a tax upon what the miner had taken out." Matters came to a head at Ballarat in November and December of 1854. Crowds of ten to fifteen thousand gathered to hear the license tax denounced. The government set up bureaucracies to collect the fees and sent police on raids to enforce payment and enact punishment. a tyrannical people. the tax outraged diggers. No business is so uncertain as surface-mining." The movement grew. Everybody was happy. howsoever rich or poor. but continued their work. They burned licenses. . and it may be worthless. December 3. Irishmen recycled the slogans of their long history of opposition to British oppression. It might be wise policy to advance the miner a monthly sum to encourage him to develop the country's riches. a fee imposed on every digger. but to tax him monthly in advance instead--why. Miners resented what they perceived as class-based oppression. only to find out at last that the gold is not there in cost-paying quantity. emerged as spokesman for a militant democracy.
small beginnings. and read first-hand accounts and histories of life at Ballarat and in Melbourne and of events leading to the battle at Eureka Stokade." he casts a cold eye on "the screaming banners and placards: 'Down with Despotism!' 'Who so base as be a Slave!" Standing apart from the marching and the military drills. all of them. he is not. . Lalor later was elected to the legislature. in extreme anxiety. how interested she would be! But the opening chapters were a sandy desert of words. she assesses Mahony's relationship to his young wife: There were also those long evenings they spent over the first hundred pages of Waverly. and became Speaker of the Victoria Parliament. Unmoved. he nicely summarized what the battle had come to mean: By and by there was a result. comforted her each night anew that they would soon reach the story proper. Beginning Australia Felix on the mine fields. Within half an hour it was over: the barricade had fallen. and then. but a doctor turned storekeeper. all about people duller than any Polly had known alive . and while he stood. To write those first pages. over again. It was a revolution²small in size. all of them epochmaking. the stars went out one by one. a quarter of the length of the book. The strains of The Marseillaise awaken in him no feeling stronger than disdain for the "Poor fools!" who sing it. he has little sympathy for the Irish Catholic's historic enmity to England. It is another instance of a victory won by a lost battle. An Irish Protestant. Mahony. Richardson takes 100 pages. the . it was Concord and Lexington. Although the first hundred pages advance Richardson's account of his fortunes no more than a couple of years. Eureka Stockade was never forgotten. and he abominates all forms of democratic excess. a struggle for a principle. except to think that "those good fellows yonder are rendering a good cause ridiculous. it was Hampden and Ship-Money. Interesting for its evidence that Scott's novel was in her mind as she developed her history of a watershed time immediately prior to her own. They keep green the memory of the men who fell at the Eureka Stockade. who. It was the Barons and John." Then. it was a strike for liberty. Richard is not a miner. Although some of his friends are revolutionaries. learned mining processes. . the comment serves also as an apology and promise. Richardson pored over maps. he advises her to "go indoors and resume her household tasks. and I think it may be called the finest thing in Australasian history." Australia at this point in the trilogy is clearly a man's world. Mahony stopped and waited. little Polly docilely withdrew her arm. like himself. a stand against injustice and oppression. and returned to her dish-washing. says the narrator. the people know it and are proud of it. It adds an honorable page to history. but all of them great in political results. Not many pages further on. The diggers' response to the volley of the attacking-party was easily to be distinguished: it was a dropping fire. and Peter Lalor has his monument. eager for her to share his enthusiasm. and sounded like a thin hail-shower after a peal of thunder. to cheers and laughter from the military. Peter Lalor and other leaders escaped and were pardoned. but great politically. drawn there by enthusiasms engendered by the symbolisms of England's Crystal Palace and Australia's goldfields. they establish a firm foundation for the rest of the trilogy. After Twain's visit to Ballarat forty years later. Richardson presents the battle scene only as Richard observes it: Together with a knot of others. "since his lightest wish was a command. to get past Eureka Stockade. he refuses to join the Reform League or support its sentiments. Patronizingly patting the hand of his wife when the conflict nears.wounded on each side. as though a finger-tip had touched them. Richard Mahony is in Ballarat when the novel opens. had run forth half dressed into the breathless dawn.
Richard makes his first substantial money almost overnight from a small investment in a mining company: "The suddenness of the thing was what staggered him. The first time Polly enters her husband's home at Ballarat. Ruined as storekeeper because his customers desert him. he finds that "Long residence in a land where every honest . Richardson distills the spirit of the times. Much later. and centipedes infest the roof." From live tarantulas to squashed spiders may be taken as symbolic of her progress and that of Australia in the intervening years. During his time in Australia. As Louisa Lawson showed in her lifetime. he experiences the first of his great downturns in fortune and begins to think of returning to England. women in Australia early pushed through doors that remained closed to them in other countries. with horrible hairy legs" that crawls out of a crack in the bedroom wall. Nevertheless. When male suffrage came. He might have drudged till his hair was grey." In his rise in fortune and position. the second a seat of empire where limited financial opportunities freeze rigid class divisions from generation to generation. his wife's rise almost as astonishing. and the huts and tents inside the enclosure were going up in flames. Richard considers England his home. a woman has endured great trials and discovered that she can survive. electoral. women were not far behind and they cast their first ballots long before their American sisters. After the failure of his store. From this point. Spiders. Richardson carefully records Richard's ambivalences about Australia and England." as Twain called it." In England. where "home" becomes increasingly difficult to define. From small battles come great victories. she moves into a small dirty home where the walls are covered with "greasy smears and finger-marks. she is greeted by "a huge black tarantula. that was one of the reforms they sought as they echoed the cries of "no taxation without representation" of the American colonies a century earlier. have come into possession of such a sum as this. With Richard's new and submissive wife so far not much more than a shadow of his large presence. it narrows to a family history that becomes a stirring testimony to the strength of Australian womanhood." He and his family live well in Australia and Europe on an income that rises to between twelve and fifteen hundred pounds a month." but display no living creatures. it was unlikely he would ever. No paradise has been gained or regained. Richard chose the wrong side. and legislative reforms. but in England he is tormented by nostalgia for the home he has left down under. "Lucky Australia. he fears he has lost a "spiritual force on which he could once have drawn at will" as he has become more and more Australian: "Oh! he had adapted himself supremely well to the standards of this Australia. scorpions. These ambivalences provide thematic substrata for the plot of The Way Home. Ideals expressed by Lalor and other revolutionaries soon took shape in constitutional. Ultima Thule. the first a colony where easy money makes wealth the primary criteria for social distinction. near the end of the final novel of the trilogy. including barriers to women.rebel flag was torn down. flattening social and economic barriers. In Australia he is a gentleman who resents "the pushful set of jobbers and tricksters he was condemned to live amongst." That first two thousand pounds soon leads to a large fortune accumulated through stock in a company called Australia Felix. The movement toward liberty and equality defeated at Eureka Stockade was not crushed there. It widens its social history from Ballarat to cover large portions of Australia in continual contrast with England and the European continent over the next fifteen years. In this "victory won by a lost battle. only "the stains of flies and squashed spiders. The colony's first heady plunge into nineteenth-century liberalism matured into the Australian ideal of a fair go for all--and that "all" included women. His experience at Ballarat foreshadows his later failures. at one stroke. the trilogy both widens and narrows. Richard's fall is great. None of the miners possessed the vote in 1854. Tracing Richard Mahony's financial fortunes as they reflect the changes in the Australian economy from the 1850s into the 1870s. which by the end stand emblematic of the failures of all those who resist the conditions of this new and ancient land. Money from the goldfields continued a great leveler. so-called Felix.
Richardson suggests. the last and most powerful book of the trilogy. Ultima Thule. in exile. it is tempting to read this final volume as a rejection of her homeland by a woman who left at eighteen and lived for the rest of her life abroad." Eventually Richard's wealth disappears with the same startling suddenness of its appearance. its untamed ugliness. he was a ruined man.man was the equal of his neighbour had unfitted him for the genuflexions of the English middle-classes before the footstools of the great. or be regarded as a pair of boors. too. the final volume of the trilogy. to grow dear: the scanty. Many. in time. with their mother's milk. . just as The Way Home begins to suggest not so much a search for a place as a state of being. takes on a tinge of heavy irony. repelled with its hardships. no longer existed. Since Richard's story is so clearly also Australia's. Ultima Thule. a place. too. of inimitable blue distances and gentian-blue skies. To them. and at the age of forty-nine. must needs start life over again. the perfume that rises hot and heavy as steam from vast paddocks of a sweet. the long. In their underclass mythology. Richard's story becomes a paradigm for the ways Australians in the period confronted their personal and national destinies. with a wife and children dependent on him. and engendering in him who travelled them a lifelong impatience with hedge-bound twists and turns. the unearthly stillness of the bush. Recording a failure. for the honey fragrance of the wattle. white. begins in the early 1870s: When. the country's very shortcomings were. with its economic and cultural future determined in cities. victimized by fortune and by failures of will and judgment. rather than on the vast fields of wheat and endless grazing grounds that until 1851 promised an idealized pastoral future. It was clear by the 1870s that Australia would remain largely an empty land. is an unrelenting chronicle of Richard's descent into poverty and insanity. it was to find that the fortune with which that country a few years back had so airily invested him. its cultural vulgarity. she provides a careful counterpoint in the slow but inevitable triumph of his wife. drank in a love of sunlight and space. the drover a figure of nostalgia. she also celebrates a . . the geranium red of young scrub. running inflexible as ruled lines towards a steadily receding horizon . red roads. in mining and banking and industry. and the first volume of Richardson's trilogy. puce. a rank nostalgia for the scent of the aromatic foliage. In surroundings to which foreign travel. a wider knowledge of the beauties of the old world. gamboge. for the third time in his life. It was left to a later generation to discover this: to those who. . Richard Mahony set foot in Australia. with its connotations of happiness and good fortune as the name of a mining company. had rendered him doubly alien. the purple-blue depths of the shadows. it was left to descry the colours in the apparent colourness: the upturned earth that shewed red. the blue in the grey of the new leafage. in part to the trickery of a scoundrel. flowering lucerne²even for the sting and tang of countless miles of bush ablaze. she wrote. . who've brought home with them the manners and habits of the backwoods. could find no beauty in its dun and arid landscape. and Australia Felix. the digger would become a national hero. To know." and he tells his wife "We've either got to adapt ourselves to the petty outlook of those about us. quickened by emotion. Depicting the final tragedy of Richard. Richard cannot survive the tensions. ragged foliage. To their eyes. Like Richard Mahony. many Australians of the late nineteenth century failed to resolve their ambivalence toward a land that enticed with its promise of riches. But Richardson is far too subtle for this easy conclusion. Thanks in part to his own want of acumen. he struggles helplessly against his fate. Incapable of fully appreciating the beauty of the land that becomes his final home. Australians of the future would lead lives much more akin to those of the mine owner and digger than the squatter and drover.
and went on producing. even in thought. as an immigrant to Australia. all her senses on the alert. becomes secretive. confident. it struck her that he did not see as clearly as she did . duplicitous. but controls badly. remains uncertain whether he is Australian or English. Especially in its last volume. ineffectual Polly of the early days becomes the matronly and commanding Mary of the later ones. "to have my girl puzzling her poor little brains where her next day's dinner was to come from. guided. . when Richard's fortunes have taken one of their serious downturns. Mary steps forward to manage when she can. the change in her name and personality mirrors a persistent theme in The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. With quickened faculties. . to her dishwashing. Mary Mahony has struggled to womanly self-fulfillment. not to worry her little head about such things. . had she been a man. to find postal employment for herself that provides minimal housing and pays the food bills. And in the last words of the book--"The rich and kindly earth of his adopted country absorbed his perishable body. foresaw. did she venture a word." Yet puzzle she must. At this point." For people who see beyond the promise of easy riches. but as she grows to Mary she steps out of that shadow into an Australian sun that warms her with the promise of a new womanhood. Polly meekly obeys her husband's suggestion that she "go indoors ." she asserts once again her indomitable will. her eyes thus opened. to save the family from disaster when saving is possible. . On the day when the battle of Eureka Stockade rips a seam in the social fabric that will be repaired to constitute a new garment affecting her very life. There is great good fortune of another kind to be found in a landscape attractive even in those seasons when its most prominent feature is the "countless miles of bush ablaze. to manage schooling for their children. was. in wools. Polly enters the novel. . still only eighteen. to watch him die. his wayward. one heading upward. . as she took up her work again. and finally insane. Early in her marriage. to commit Richard to insane asylums when no better solution presents itself.success." Later. it was not in Mary to stand dumbly by and watch him make what she held to be mistakes . to care for him at home when institutions have failed her. and toward the end of Australia Felix she has begun to clarify her situation to herself: Occasionally. Richard insists on control. . sure of his name. She has only to bring her husband home. but. Mary's unfolding consciousness is meticulously documented. Thus begins the dance of wills and intellect of the next two volumes. an earth depicted with a "malignant eye" at the end of the Proem to The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. as the country itself had never contrived to make its own. like Richard. she could not help reflecting on what she would have done at this pass. hindered. to battle the male hierarchy of the commitment bureaucracy when it becomes apparent that the horrors within walls are worse than the horrors without. she watched. a green basket of yellow fruit on a magenta ground. . When she gives to her final home far out in the bush at Gynmgurra the coat of whitewash that covers "the greasy smears and finger-marks . Her record is heroic. Richard. she is barely capable of voicing her concerns and "Richard's invariable answer. and see him buried. . The same female earth that drew to its breast those men smitten with the "unholy hunger" of the goldfields. he says. where questions of personal identity are closely linked to questions of national identity. the manifold opportunities in Australia are not necessarily counted in pound notes or dollar bills. And. she stands small in the EnglishAustralian shadow of her husband." He didn't marry. vagrant spirit"--there is an insistent subtext of affirmation. we encounter this passage: Polly shrank from censuring her husband. her trilogy drives inexorably forward as a tale of crossed lives. is in the final sentence of Ultima Thule a "rich and kindly earth. and capable." . the stains of flies and squashed spiders. the other down. In the same Australia that has defeated Richard Mahony. equal. As the little.
If you drive another 430 miles of narrow coastal strip from Melbourne to Adelaide. They drive to wineries. swagmen. Melbourne to Adelaide--that encompasses 10% of the land mass of Australia and 80% of its people. an Australian who emigrated to the United States. they said. What they wanted. and the concept of mateship is widespread. or airplane to the Great Barrier Reef. The Blue Mountains that constituted a formidable barrier for early settlers seeking a way west from Sydney are only a part of it. They visit waterfalls on the Great Divide.500 miles beyond them. Sixty percent or those people. When he can. or surf. you know! I mean. his side yards almost nonexistent. neither very far from home.314 feet above sea level on Mount Kosciusko in southern New South Wales. lawyer. This typical Australian lives closer to his neighbors than seems necessary in a country with so much space. They hear the call of the bush. the average Australian considers himself part bushman. each with its small walled garden. He seems to have built from plans for England's dense inner cities and suburban detached and semi-detached villas. or sail. they carry their bush identities under their business suits and hard hats. Our students were typical. he leaves the city for shore or bush. near the Victoria border. they reply that they swim. His house lot is tiny. accountant. steelworker. red soil. There seems to be an Australian element at work. the Aborigine can't see the . In Queensland. The job itself didn't matter. They rough it with station hands on sheep or cattle stations. They jump from bridges over glorious gorges with ankles tied to bunji cords. They ascend in hot air balloons. view mountain scenery. too: a crowding together in awe of the emptiness beyond the mountains. Forget your images of bushmen and diggers. you will have traveled through an area--Brisbane to Melbourne. sundowners. It reaches highest at 7. Outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen. In Queensland they continue to run close to the shore. sheep shearers and drovers. Most had not determined on careers. expressed it his way: "Americans must understand that Australians define themselves much more by their leisure activities than by their work. throw shrimps on the barbie. or camp out. or hike. They tour by motorbus. Jill Ker Conway. "What do you do?" Job descriptions like doctor. Within New South Wales the distance between Pacific Ocean and mountains averages no more than 30 to 80 kilometers (18 to 50 miles). New Guinea. and computer programmer don't strike them as much to the point. but it is not where he has his life. and Aboriginal trackers gone walkabout beyond endless horizons.Back and Forth to Sydney Australia's Great Dividing Range runs along the east coast from near Melbourne at the southern end of the continent to the northern tip of Queensland. bet on horse and dog races. his front and back yards curtailed. inhabit Sydney and Melbourne. drink in pubs and workers' clubs. watch Australian Rules Football. settlers coaxing scraggly green shoots from dry. The city is where the Australian lives. Alice Springs. but seldom a career to be pursued as American do. was a job that would pay for house and car and leave time for weekends and vacations. it diminishes in size until it falls into the sea as a broken bridge of small islands crossing the Torres Strait between Queensland and Papua. The idea is to get the job done and get away from it. Or they fossick for gold or sapphires or opals. and drive down the coast past Newcastle and Sydney to Melbourne. Darwin and the Northern Territory." Asked what they do. In the city they tend gardens. or climb mountains. nurse. carpenter. Australians are great weekenders who cherish those brief respites until the arrival of longer holidays. Still. or ski. West of the range the land stretches nearly 2. just over the northern border of New South Wales. Work is a job. 48% of the entire population of Australia.400 miles in an immense plateau across the rest of Australia. for it continues northward over 1. You may find prototypes of these images if you try hard. but the typical Australian is a city dweller. tramp through rain forests. Elsewhere its rise is often precipitous. Ross Terrill quotes a journal editor: "We're all Aborigines. You traverse less than half of this narrow eastern shelf between mountains and sea if you start at Brisbane. train.
" reads the summary: From Sydney. his bronzed skin outlined against white clouds as he rides a mammoth blue wave that cascades into white foam around him. information kiosks. sparsely populated areas of bush as it once was. In either direction lie large. brown or gray-blue palettes of July to paint themselves in the lush ." A small map of Australia lies next to an exploded map of New South Wales. of computers and blast furnaces." boasts a promotional brochure. And then--time permitting--head for the Vineyards. Take in the sun. once to apply and again to pick them up. it was necessary to visit the Chinese Consulate in Sydney twice for visas. of new ships being launched and old ones loaded with coal. ten colored pages celebrate a city described as "Newcastle: City of Beaches. "Newcastle. Tempt yourself to the culinary delights of an almost endless choice of fine restaurants." in tacit admission that everyone recognizes the industrial side. and China. Stay in style at one of its excellent Hotels or Motor Inns. Australians approve of this. Soak up the atmosphere of a truly cosmopolitan city scenario. even if they live just down the road. and Newcastle draws from Sydney. Although the Qantas agent in Newcastle proved wonderfully helpful for flight arrangements. "the other side of Newcastle. We only work hard at our gardens. Indulge in the nocturnal diversions of Cinema. with only two places identified: Sydney. he'd prefer to sit in the sun." with his surfboard pointed toward the heavens. tourist offices. During the early weeks. or nearly so. its long. restaurants. Gum trees. fast straight-aways. we often traveled along the shoreline strip between mountains and sea." As a result.sense of working hard all day. Most of the page consists of color photographs of men in hard hats and laboratory coats." and proclaims: In the 1980s The Premier electrified us Newcastle beaches gave the world its best surfer Tomago launched a smelter and a ship for the navy Our kids met a real live Princess and Newcastle's BHP was there. Make this surprising City the headquarters of your Hunter Holiday. and Newcastle. or The Lake. abandoned the dull. When we were not seeing Newcastle. sand and surf at Newcastle's superb cityside beaches. 40 minutes by commuter air services. the Great Barrier Reef. the lush greenery and wildlife on the front cover is forcefully balanced on the back by an advertisement proclaiming "Newcastle and BHP: Partners in Progress. its splendid vistas. every place in Australia is a tourist attraction for people from some other place. in much larger ones. seldom bare except when burned or diseased. each just a pleasant drive away. There is also a photo of Prince Charles during his 1983 visit and one of "Mark Richards ± World Champion '79-'82." The sparse verbal text notes "The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited Centenary 1885-1985. and printed guides to local sights. The Bay. Theatre. we spent considerable time planning our longer trips to Townsville. Cities and towns alike provide hotels. Discos and Nightclubs. taking the Pacific Highway to Sydney or heading for coastal areas north of Newcastle. Inside the brochure. in small letters. just 2 hours by road or rail. "A Surprising Place. For those who don't. We came to know its twists and turns. The brown fields and hillsides of winter turned lush green in spring. Sydney draws tourists from Newcastle. These and other trips made us temporary commuters on that stretch of the Pacific Highway. its roundabouts.
If all went well. Hills drop too steeply to water's edge to leave much room for habitation. which by his time was largely deserted. "The headlands are higher and the bluffs are bolder. He thought it necessary for Chinese intellectuals to maintain contacts with the West and for Westerners to demonstrate their support through the exchange of ideas. Difficulties he could surmount might prove insurmountable for us." Pressure for sanctions against China continued strong. fueled by images of the freedom movement crushed by army tanks in Tiananmen Square. Governor Phillip called this in 1788 "the best piece of water I ever saw. patches of blue haze formed above far forests and. who viewed it from a train. when it became necessary to purchase tickets to Hong Kong or relinquish our reservations. When convicts built the Great North Road to the Hunter area. and urged us to go. Comparing the Hawkesbury to Niagara Falls. than those of either the European or the American River. Hills and mountains rose dusky blue against the azure brilliance of wintry skies. mate. and the most enchanting re-arrangements of the water effects. At a China symposium at the University of Newcastle. Awards for Chinese Fulbrighters about to leave for the United States were also cancelled. our Qantas agent. found it "extraordinarily fine. named for a transported felon who lived there. In early days the river and its steep sides defied settlers seeking crossings to the north. the director of the Chinese-American exchange program at Eastern Michigan University called to say that the university was discontinuing its Chinese exchanges. In Washington. they crossed thirty kilometers upstream at Wiseman's Ferry. On each passing. To the east. Killarney's upper lake. "No worries. He reminded us of our additional and long-standing commitments to lecture at Huazhong Normal University in the provincial city of Wuhan. the Inn River at Innsbruck. Stephen could speak Chinese and we could not. He told us he experienced no problem. assured us we could cancel without penalty up to the time of leaving. Twain and Trollope both praised the beauty of the Hawkesbury. "and the turns and manoeuvers of the course which the waters have made for themselves are grander.blue-greens of November. and especially to his favorite beauty spots. At that point we couldn't be sure of entry into China and had to face the possibility of turning around to fly back to Australia. Peking University. Trollope concluded that the Hawkesbury outdid them all. but made it clear that considerable tact would be necessary. the river widens into the open water and inlets of Broken Bay. with spacious views of stream and lake imposingly framed in woody hills. John O'Neil. where contacts with the West he considered even more important because less common. assured us we would experience none. we admired again the view of the Hawkesbury River from the bridge high above. Visits to the Chinese Consulate in Sydney failed to clarify much. turned to the smoke of woods ablaze. and to me more enchanting. bounded by the headlands of Ku-ring-gai National Park. the Rhone at Geneva. whose students were prominent in the movement." Trollope spent two days descending the river by steamer and spent the night at Wiseman's Ferry. Fulbright Awards for scholars scheduled to go to China in September were cancelled. a professor recently returned from China advised us to go." he wrote. and must hope for no international incidents. On our first. and every now and then the noblest groupings of mountains. we would fly from Sydney to Hong Kong on September 21 and enter China the next day. We spoke by phone to a Michigan friend and Chinese native who had passed through Beijing in June. Still we hesitated. As the weather warmed. we discovered we could leave visa applications but could find out nothing further until the expirations of the mandated waiting . Twain. was scheduled as our first lecture stop. leaving little shore." Our China trip remained problematical into August. When we paid for the tickets. He felt that our visit would not compromise our hosts. but letters from home told us students were still being arrested in Beijing." On the west the Hawkesbury descends between hills and mountains that rise in cliffs above it. the Rhine and the Upper Mississippi. Meanwhile. We would need our papers in order. as we drove closer.
It wouldn't happen. it was still uncrowded. as the last ten or fifteen kilometers to the Harbour Bridge took nearly an hour. however. and to ask them. That was on August 17th.m. marble or imitation marble. if not wholly so in his pronunciation. Everyone considered the strike a problem. Public sympathy during strikes is clearly another form of mateship. we had cancelled classes and scheduled make-up sessions for the week of August 27 and the students did not want to return to the original schedule.period. "No woolies. we should wait there for seats on any plane going to Townsville. We feared the Consulate would be closed for lunch by the time we arrived. . on a Sunday. cheap at the current $150. While we waited for their replies.m. Fortunately. can bring industries to a standstill for months. we learned. a general support for one's working fellows and a defiance of hierarchies of management in a country determinedly egalitarian.m. we were in for a bit of good Chinese luck. Australia's powerful unions. Drawing on the public's perception of a normal work day. The possibility of becoming stranded abroad seemed remote. ill-lit. to tell us frankly whether our visit was still welcome. with a desk. and our visas were ready. We wrote to provide our hosts the most precise itinerary we could devise. If our flight did not go. Early in the strike the pilots cut back on their flying but did not entirely eliminate it. one clerk. we went forward with our Chinese plans. Moreover. for the pilots were curtailing domestic flights only. we carried an American confidence that air travel within a country as vast as Australia could not be long interrupted. but no sign that there wouldn't. At CITS a Chinese man with good Australian English said he couldn't sell tickets. As the days went by. Calls to the airline brought the same daily reply: if continuing efforts to end the strike should fail. On the 18th the Australian airlines industry was hit by a pilots' strike. we would wait certainly for hours and possibly for days for four places on planes that might not fly. Ground preparation time would cut air time still shorter. he said. and no flights would leave before 10:00 a. we were advised to arrive at the airport hoping the strike was settled the night before. they would work only from 9:00 to 5:00. He gave no sign that there would be a problem. we heard on every side--from newspapers. television. they announced that instead of flying around the clock. mate. We should expect delays and cancellations as normal for travelers on their own. The Consulate was a barren waiting room. Resulting traffic tie-ups turned the two hour trip into a three hour one. and no helpful informational literature. The government was about to reduce ticket prices by 10% to encourage tourism. we scheduled typhus immunization shots. The clerk accepted our papers with a smile and told us to come back in a week. and was genuinely pleased to help visiting Americans. The next step took us CITS (China International Travel Service) to explore travel possibilities within the country once we arrived there from Hong Kong. The sum of this for us was that to arrive at the airport in Sydney for a 7:30 flight.m. We were the only customers. colleagues and students at the university." he assured me. would become still cheaper. If it was not settled. but it wasn't. Although China still seemed possible. After protracted negotiations with James Cook University and Qantas. Armed with visas and with airline tickets to Hong Kong that could be cancelled at the last minute. but assured us that travel within China in the aftermath of the "troubles" would be no more difficult than before. Our flight from Guangzhou to Beijing. not international ones. For a flight at 7:30 a. on a Sunday nine days after the strike began. By this time. we had arranged to leave Sydney at 7:30 a. shopkeepers and people in the street--that we should not take the strike lightly. Clearly. He was fair dinkum Australian in his manner. we would have to leave Newcastle by 5:00 a. flights would be rescheduled or passengers shifted to other flights. That didn't seem to affect our Chinese plans. in the United States. we thought. One of the many flights cancelled was ours. Few were angry at the strikers. A week later we drove to Sydney in one of the few heavy rains of our four and a half month stay. a prolonged strike would threaten our trip to Townsville. his was not just a professional optimism written into his job description. as politely but as pointedly as we knew how. Our trip would go just fine.
A miniscule part of the problem was solved when international carriers stopping in Cairns and Sydney. A few desperate people accepted flights on Royal Australian Air Force planes and immediately made the nightly newscasts.The imperatives of mateship did not last long with a public who soon learned that in a time of economic belt-tightening affecting most workers. which began.500 miles back to arrive at Australian destinations only a few hundred miles from their starting points. and not a bad one. to give him news he was not surprised by. all sharing the same soil and sun. our James Cook University host. Some flew 1. my eyes shaded from the sun by my stockman's hat." In a field full of poppies. August 23 pilots grounded all domestic flights in Australia. we continued our sightseeing drives out of Newcastle. Whatever this Oz is. "Why are pilots worth more than other workers?" "I think we're worth more at 30. fast drives over Australian roads.000 kilometers. Without even checking fares very carefully. choices of travel are limited. by happy coincidence. and noisy. the pilots were seeking a pay raise of 30%. and probably would break down before completing the trip. Discounting our lack of enthusiasm for flying that way. Rental agencies shied from committing good cars to long. Then we called Tony Hassell. Airports were crowded with people camped in indefinite wait for any flight they could get. On Saturday. with the two letters OZ. We would try again for the first week in November. the man in the street began to ask a tall poppy question. my hand on the hood as though on the neck of a white stallion. Faces showed apprehension and a shared sense of once-in-alifetime adventure. 40 hours up and 40 hours back. The picture shows the New South Wales license plate. on seats that seemed unpadded plastic. Oz is the Aussies' nickname for their country. . This was the end of August and we knew the pilots' strike could not last forever. Passengers wore earplugs. cars seemed impossible. trains. and one of the girls photographed me beside it. and the long haul from Brisbane to Townsville another 26. poorly pressurized. Newcastle to Brisbane is a run of 14 hours. Widespread initial support began to erode under the effects of another Australian trait rooted in egalitarianism: the "tall poppy syndrome. On television news reports. it isn't Kansas. Good trains run. began to fill empty seats with local passengers." conveyed an arrogance that did not sit well with the public. 80 hours of train travel in a week. or Sydney and Melbourne. we decided against it. elbow to elbow like troops preparing for a parachute drop. They sat along the sides of the craft. O'Neil and cancel in person (we wanted no slip-ups) our flight to Townsville the next day. we went down to the Qantas office on Hunter Street to see Mr. By Wednesday. with their backs to the walls. Our Holden proved a faithful steed for these shorter trips. Australians ritually lop off the heads of the few flowers that blossom higher than their mates. As the weeks went by with China questionable and Townsville impossible. When airplanes fail in Australia. but over formidable distances. Our Holden Gemini could do no better in time. our chances of getting on a flight were slim.500 miles to New Zealand and 1. Planes. Still the strike continued. The planes were propeller-driven.
as we had in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. drugged by narcotics in the ecalyptus leaves that provide their only food. where it remains protected from the weather for the first six months of its life outside the womb. We chose to walk both ways. it is easier to take the ferry from Circular Quay. Twain credited them with the . nor pumas or ounces. dingoes. says flatly "Australia is altogether deficient in sensational wild beasts. But not less expensive. kangaroos. it places the viewer behind wires at a distance from the eucalyptus trees where a couple of koalas huddle in somnolence above the ground. Large. or even bunyips. dingoes. When the baby is born. and built fences that by the Depression of the 1930s included one that ran over 1. rabbits constituted a plague by the late nineteenth century. Settlers shot them. or carries down those tired from walking up. Trollope does not mention them. The universal fascination with koalas is recent. scarcely the size of a human thumbnail. though we saw none so big. however. Opera House. tigers. or leopards in Australia. office towers. possums.Left with time to spare after our first trip to the Chinese Consulate." and records his disappointment specifically: "There are no lions. the harbor below. does Twain. but on the koala the pocket is upside down. Like other marsupials they carry their young in pockets. There are splendid views over the harbor. Koalas sleep about 19 hours a day. past the giraffe compound. They occupy a much smaller space in Australian literature than kangaroos. I believe. Leaving the pocket. rabbits. We found space in a parking garage at the edge of The Rocks. it spends another six months on its mother's back before becoming large enough to move away to live on its own. across the harbor from the city center. clubbed them. and bridge. nor. Their few waking hours are mostly at night. and paid $22 for the privilege. To those who have seen koalas close. intended to accommodate crowds.--not even a monkey. the area where the convicts first lived. And rabbits. It occupies the side of a hill in the suburb of Mosman. poisoned them. furry and ferocious monsters of Aboriginal myth." He credits the country with iguanas. the koala enclosure disappoints. At the zoo an aerial tramway carries people not fond of climbing up to the top of its steep hill. and sundry exotic birds. and in the further distance the Sydney skyline. it crawls easily into the pocket. who didn't see a bunyip. for example. we decided to spend the rest of the day at Sydney's world-famous Taronga Park Zoo. Although it is possible to drive there from the city.300 miles to keep them from uninfested areas. At full size it grows to a length of 30 inches. Trollope. Keepers periodically provide interesting facts. Introduced from Europe. with the giraffes in the foreground.
" Their chances of survival are threatened by finicky eating habits. There are also sharks and in the reptile house. Long-bodied. Impressive in size." Among these is the "highly venomous Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (Pelamis platurus) reported on beaches near Sydney. none of us were eager to meet a stone fish and test the validity of the conclusion. An echidna waddling along the dirt near his concrete wall stopped to poke his long nose upward and squint toward us through beady eyes. snakes looking much like anyone else's sharks and snakes. the red pandas proved especially interesting. And recent studies have indicated that even those trees may turn into enemies of their furry inhabitants: Eucalyptus trees growing in depleted soil apparently release extra toxins into their leaves. with most in New South Wales and Victoria. legs. Koalas also suffer from a sexually transmitted disease that becomes most virulent when they find themselves under stress. How painful would you say it is now? Let's say on a scale of one to ten?" "How painful is it compared to other painful deaths you have suffered?" Although we sensed a flaw in whatever methods were used to gather the data. "Men in laboratory coats stand by with clipboards recording the answers to key questions. "only about 20 species are venomous to man. The duckbill platypuses remained hidden under the rocks lining the artificial stream of their enclosure. The aquarium fascinates with its numerous poisonous creatures taken from Australian coastal waters. Long fluffy tails trailed behind them as they prowled over and around the tree limbs of their enclosure. and ears. "80 percent of the koalas' habitat has been destroyed. they resemble somewhat the raccoons to which all pandas are related. Elsewhere in the zoo. There is also the stone fish. for we had not seen that animal before. it looks threatening enough to hinder one's desire to approach any black snake. seeming to find us in some way interesting." "How does anyone know?" asked Suzanne. Koalas will eat the leaves of only about a dozen of the 650 or so species of eucalyptus in Australia." The red-bellied black snake we had already seen in the Rusa Deer Park in the Hunter Valley wine district. Estimates of their present numbers range from from 60.formation of the Blue Mountains: "A resident told me that these were not mountains. What all this means for the future of koalas seems uncertain. toadlike. he said they were rabbit-piles. a dangerous cephalopod that has the grace to warn of its presence by setting its purple rings aglow when approached. Around the eyes are dark patches. "They keep files. They are now extinct in some areas they once inhabited. And explained that long exposure and the over-ripe condition of the rabbits was what made them look so blue. whether or not its belly is ." said Alison. ugly. We were told by an Englishman resident in Newcastle that the stone fish was capable of inflicting "the most painful death known to man. catlike. making them inedible to koalas and by this means saving them for their own uses in the struggle for life. they are natives of China and northern Burma." Koalas? It has been estimated that in the 1920s three million were killed for their hides. with dense fur." says the Director of the Australian Koala Foundation.000 to 400. for there is disagreement as to whether current protection efforts are sufficient to ensure survival. reports The Modern Encyclopedia of Australia and New Zealand. an enclosure walled for safety that is open enough to allow the tidal flow of sea water in and out. "Since white settlement. Of 68 species of venomous land snakes in Australia. and easily confused with a brown stone lying among similar stones on the sandy bottom of any beach. "Do they stand around and watch?" That was after we left the dinner party where the information was imparted. There is the purple-ringed octopus.000. A friend of ours said he once found one when his children were bathing in the children's pool at Newcastle. but they have black patches on their underbellies. Like the more familiar giant pandas. roundish. Their body color is between red and rusty. masklike against white faces.
This got my attention. but in the end we had to leave without sighting those rare. We thought of a snake. and Alison and photographed them next to the sign "Birds of the Billabong. was not an inhabitant of the house. and for most people the koalas are star attractions. for it had climbed the smooth legs of the table. while I was making the morning rounds to set the electric fires going. including in the wild pools and streams where they still live in New South Wales. brownish. Evil-looking crocodiles prowl swamp-like areas in one part of the zoo. That it lived behind a piece of furniture. but that practice may since have been banned as much too stressful for the animals. smaller zoos advertised that visitors could pet or be photographed with koalas.visible. but large enough to make one wary of moving quickly to pick up the animal that made them. but white. Either it was not hungry or pears were not its favorite food. A pear on the kitchen table had marks of small teeth in it. No human teeth had made these marks. it was in fact the only venomous snake discussed much in our presence during our stay in Australia. Barbara and I continued to look expectantly in likely places. none of these entirely comforting thoughts. for on the morning before I had cut what I thought was a bad spot." Despite Trollope's and Twain's disparagement of Australian wild life. boasts a Reptile Park. as we christened it. with fresh teeth cuts and no trace of the browning that comes quickly to pear flesh cut and exposed to the air. In 1989. shy creatures. Aviaries for exotic birds contain few more interesting than the sulfur-crested cockatoos and galahs from the wilds of Newcastle. Visitors and Visits Not many days after we moved into our Newcastle house. jumped to it from a bench. with torn skin. Suzanne. The new mark was no bad spot. . Narrow. off a pear prior to eating it. I saw signs of a night visitor. We preferred to believe that the beast. Alison and Suzanne went down by train one day to visit a friend who worked at the park. the most likely way was through a wide opening between the doorsill and the bottom of the door to the side veranda. sharp incisors were what was suggested. in a corner of a room. The Sydney area has at least two others in addition to the major one at Taronga Park. and there they saw platypuses. a visit to a zoo now occupies an important place within the recreational possibilities of New South Wales. In one area is a small stream and a few trees inhabited by birds that refused to show themselves. or behind boxes in a closet. or dropped from the ceiling. so I lined up Barbara. It was clearly an agile animal. seemed hardly possible. North Gosford. If it came from outside. too small for a human. between Sydney and Newcastle.
In Michigan. Since the space between door and sill was an inch and a half to two inches high. We would like to have known the identity of our visitor. In the storage area below the house I found a solid block of wood. Appearing almost shaved. checking the block became a nighttime ritual before retiring. muscular arms. An earlier neglected relative of the American black widow is now known to set up long-lasting degenerative action in the cells . Our house came furnished with few books. In Newcastle. Nor does it look like a spider for fun. we were told. On the several times when we found two. the towel remained rolled up. Bookshops feature large displays of glossy volumes with titles emphasizing the venomous properties of snakes. hairier Australian wolf spider. But we didn't want to know it very well. This one is so big you can trip over it. and then stand back out of the way as the spider throws it back at you with its long. spiders. it would at least reduce the draft. I was prepared to get a still larger block or pile blocks on blocks. A shoe sole is a fine dispatcher. that squeezes under roof tiles or through other openings common in Australian house construction. For quite a while after. If it was moved in the morning. or perhaps a bush rat. This one is harmless. Short grass leaves fewer hiding places for venomous creatures. we were told. but prominent among them was a Spiders of Australia. perhaps.but the marks didn't look like fang marks. the Australian funnel web is not to be fooled with. black spiders on the screen door or on the floor of the hall or bedroom. they look like poorly-grassed putting greens. Nobody thought our visits unusual or worrisome. If it didn't keep out the beast. I mow my own lawn. but it had been pushed four or five inches away from the opening. Among these is the funnel web spider. however. and think perhaps its qualities were exaggerated for visiting Americans. That evening I rolled up a towel and placed it across the opening. but that first one held. We disposed of the pear. and sea creatures.or three-inch glossy. it sometimes makes its ways into houses to surprise the sleepy. So it was not a tiny beast. The next morning something had again been on the table. but one with some strength. and then mostly hiring the work out. though. "I haven't heard of a single death since the serum was developed. a small possum. Friends suggested a bandicoot (a rat-like marsupial). In ugliness of appearance. A relative of the relatively harmless wolf spiders whose funnel-shaped webs sparkle with morning dew on American lawns (unless the makers have been killed by herbicides or insecticides). It lives in a hole in the ground so big you can drop a golf ball down it. unwary. A long-resident English friend confessed to gardening for months with gloves on. but thoughts of the reason behind it. the funnel web can't hold a candle to another. three or four inches square and long and heavy. scorpions. the reflective surfaces of its eyes shine back at you like cat's eyes. bare-footed householder hunting about for socks and shoes. On the road at night. Besides. Evidence suggests they exist in numbers enough to make a North American or European uncomfortable. considered more of a threat in Sydney than in Newcastle. Before then there was no known antidote to their bite. it would accommodate a variety of creatures capable of squeezing through small openings. Australian small talk with "new chums" turns frequently to the continent's unpleasant creatures. It is not the length of the grass that puts off a visitor thinking of mowing his own lawn. A pill capsule had been dislodged and rolled onto the floor. There aren't a lot about. larger. which I placed that night against the opening. Glossy black. Lawns are almost everywhere kept to a length of about a quarter of an inch. At the door. hairy-legged. it spreads itself to a menacing three inches or so in diameter. Exterminating firms contract for regular visits to spray the perimeters and floorboards under a house against invasion by spiders and scorpions. Other spiders are more venomous than once thought. We didn't need to worry. the size of a small cat. We never saw it. but never established it. Well. we would know it when we saw it. A night stalker. with identifying illustrations." said a friend. "I don't think one should worry about them. whose bite can be fatal. we didn't wait for expert identification. I contracted with the lawn man who worked for the owner of the house." That was not so long ago.
He worked from the time he was twelve. An ordinary bloke. Dorothy was about the same age and had never worked outside the house. with the result that the view from the house was lawn. Phil was a great gardener. just down the hill from Macquarie Street where they now lived. With that they bought their first house. flowers. When we knew them. all luck and pluck. Even in winter their house was resplendent with cut flowers from beds in the back yard: roses. He had been retired nearly a quarter of a century. Dorothy popped in first to introduce herself and offer any assistance we might need in getting settled. they invited us over for Australian pre-dinner drinks. We tried with limited success to break them of their habit of leaving clothing strewn about the bedroom floor. but nobody suggested we would find them in Newcastle. Not long after. in retirement. their living room commanded a fine view over the city toward Adamstown.600 pounds with money mostly borrowed from Dorothy's parents. he served for many years as head of his milk marketing board. he sold it. They drove us around their old neighborhood. trimmed within a quarter inch of its life. spending most of his life as a milk man. a minor slip in a world where so many have forgotten that other Babe. flowers.of the flesh where it bites. The Benneytts preferred Scotch. much as ours sloped to the east. Dorothy came from a family with social and financial pretentions. bought another. He bought his first for about 3. Weeds were nonexistent. lawn. Grass was as green as winter grass. can be kept with good fertilizer and regular watering. Phil. which they happily poured for Barbara. and varieties of lush anemones. Broadmeadow. flowers.000 pounds in a lottery. doctors and other professional people. boasted that his memories of American sport went all the way back to Babe Ruth and his wife Babe Didrikson. There are also the giant bird-catching spiders. lawn. he was quietly proud of his achievements and his acquaintance with political and economic leaders in New South Wales. When he built that route up to a point where it was worth considerably more than he paid for it. gifted with boundless energy. It was also a reminder of how difficult it would be for most Americans to name a famous Australian from the 'twenties or 'thirties. a flower bed. and a stone retaining wall. and the university. Both were great admirers of the United States and especially pleased to sit down and talk with Americans. Milk routes in Australia are individually owned. neighbors from across the street. We found it difficult to keep our intake to a modest half of theirs and still remain as lucid as they. poppies of many more shades of soft colors than we were aware existed. Phil began poor with little education. In time we learned their story. built the second route up until it could be sold for a profit. bought and sold like any other business. Phil's success was an Australian Horatio Alger story. Other visitors were more wholesome than unknown beasts and spiders. Phil had built four terraces on the slope. On our usual route to and from the university we passed every day a billboard advertising pest control with a ten foot image of a funnel web spider. In 1937 he won 1. then sold that one and bought another. We were in our house less than a week when we began to learn of Australian mateship from Phil and Dorothy Bennett. and since this was early in our stay it formed part of our introduction to the fabled Australian drinking capacity. each with a narrow lawn four or five feet wide. Since their lot sloped to the west. and so on. born in a land of great opportunity. lawn. a great sports fan. Phil was seventy-six. showed us the house where she was born and the church in Adamstown where they were married. flowers. their marriage had already lasted over fifty years and was surely destined for as long as their health would endure. Our girls were advised by friends to be sure always to shake out their shoes before putting them on in the morning. liberally poured and repoured. perhaps the greatest woman athlete of the century. Now. turning in the Australian way from work to the good life of ease and recreation as soon as he found it possible. Nevertheless. and then a board fence and beyond that the city and the distant hills. A born organizer. . It was hard to forget the reason for caution. but also kept wine aplenty. they stepped across the social and cultural gap to marry.
four times world champion. From the Bennetts we learned more substantial reasons why ours was an exclusive neighborhood. for he wanted us to be certain to pay it proper homage in our daily passage. the water trickled into our house at a pressure far below that most Americans accept as natural. Many repeated the low brick wall enclosing our front lawn. Swimming pools. And now in his eightieth decade it was remarkable how well he kept the stringy. but welcomed its warm low rays in winter. fenced area by the side of the road near our house there stood a pumping station and a round tank of fairly substantial size elevated on a platform to lift the water twenty or thirty feet into the air. you live on Macquarie Street?" carried a tinge of envy that sometimes seemed obscure or frivolous. Phil retired at fifty-three. We always had available the tides. During our stay of winter into spring the marker never fell below the halfway mark. red-tiled roofs. we were sure. They had been throughout much of Australia. muscular structure that must have been honed from boyhood through years of running up and down the stairs of Australian houses delivering full bottles of milk and carrying away empties. Despite the advantages. Water on the hilltop was a problem. All were carefuly placed and doored and windowed for cross ventilation. and seven months seeing the sights. Roof overhangs and verandas warded off the sun in the summer when it was high. it seemed likely the area remained bush until the arrival of city water. Ours. but not ostentatious. In Australia you don't work longer than you have to. A young surfer told us with breathless interest that just down the hill from us lived the incredible Mark Richards. a permanent and to us ominous warning of times to come when the water level might be perilously low. With only slightly diminished energy and plenty of time he tended his garden. would be different. Because Phil's and Dorothy's seemed among the oldest of the homes. but still we found ourselves unable to distinguish it from other similar houses. which unlike many others lacked air-conditioning. since residents before that would have had to make do largely with rooftop runoff stored in cisterns. In a small. eucalyptus. They had been at least once to Europe when they were younger and he took time off from the milk route to sail by luxury liner. and jacaranda trees. we assumed. although his voice came into our kitchen by radio in the mornings to provide daily surfing reports. They were well-appointed. Europe was pleasant. that water pressure from below would prove inadequate to carry water so high. and water temperatures at numerous beaches up and down the coast around Newcastle. we assumed they selected a choice site in anticipation of the extension of a water main up the hill from Glebe Road or Broadmeadow. were filled from tank trucks. with their brick fronts.Although they could walk from the place they lived in the year of Tiananmen Square and the destruction of the Berlin Wall to the places of their birth at the beginning of the War to End All Wars. too. Then the sweat that drops from brows and bodies fails to evaporate in the summer damps that make the lower flats unlivable. when the temperature rises to 100 or 110 degrees. They would have known. They bought their lot. The spot boasts a westward view and breezes that sweep across the hilltop in summer. manicured lawns. "Oh. The neighborhood the Bennetts picked for their home and into which we fell by accident was a desirable one. . but it was not Australia. but summer. higher and therefore better than Mark Richards's. And we learned the name of an Australian athlete to add to our small store of tennis greats to offer in exchange for Phil's Babes of the thirties. He described the house with meticulous care. was designed with high clerestory windows above the central hall and a ceiling fan to help evacuate the summer heat. Nor did we ever meet Mark Richards. Generally the homes in the neighborhood were not large by American standards. A few boasted swimming pools that occupied most of the limited exterior space behind the houses. On the side of the tank a vertical scale carried a red marker indicating the water level to every passerby. below. they were not untraveled. and were probably active in the neighborhood association that took the appropriate additional measures. Australian mastery of the techniques of deep-well drilling would run into snags on a location this high that was also undercut with the tunnels of coal mines. and added walls at the back as well. wave conditions. After accumulating more than enough money to last a lifetime. at the time of Phil's retirement. five weeks each way. As it was. This was a point of pride with both of them.
With his working bloke's ethos. they have sought an economic basis for pleasant lives. the builders of the house then up for sale had to pour thousands of dollars worth of concrete into holes between unremovable rock and excavated soil before they could erect the superstructure. From the red cliffs above. Redhead's main drag. Dorothy agreed or failed to contradict. in short. a few modest. Despite the beauty. was $230. there sprouted a colony of new and expensive glass-fronted homes. Failures of compliance can be costly. Outward from the beach. Coastal beauty was a superfluous commodity to earlier dwellers here. where the landscape blended easily into a nature preserve that stretched to the ocean. Programs for the elderly. Outside of town. Collier Street. nobody but coal miners lived there until recently. When Phil and Dorothy built. named for the spectacular rocky cliff that fronts the ocean at the end of a splendid beach. One house in the neighborhood remains uninsurable. All construction is carried out under strict regulatory controls that also support a fund to insure against damage from subsidence. Beside the approach to the town a small mine seemed still in working order. Phil and Dorothy took Barbara and me on exploratory trips while our daughters explored elsewhere with student friends. with elaborate verandas. announced that the home to our right was for sale. "Have you seen such and such?" was the constant question. Universities waste taxpayers' money teaching people things they can't use. Because the mining tunnels that riddle the hill are not well mapped. newly planted on the lawn. It seemed a bargain. Australian. and here on a hill in Newcastle they have so undermined the ground that homes and homeowners together threaten to collapse into the earth that sustains them. Redhead Beach in our immediate foreground. Strict building codes apply. Social clubs were what they most wanted us to see. because the builder mistakenly added two more rows of brick than were allowed on the site. presenting a false Australia that the Bennetts and their mates wouldn't recognize.000. was lined with the small. considerations of weight prevented them from receiving permission to add the brick facing that provides an appearance of solidity to most houses on the street. On later visits to Redhead we . Self-made. Macquarie Street. the surf rolled in white breakers toward shore. Phil said. seems a metaphor for the tenuous relationship Australians (and. meaningful lives." Phil spun the wheel for a quick detour. efficient homes of a company town. for all the houses in the neighborhood the possibility of ground subsidence remains a continuing concern. more prosperous Newcastle that has emerged after clean-air regulations scrubbed industrial pollutants from the skies and affluent Sydneysiders began their migration to the area's natural attractions. Minorities and economically disadvantaged people are too coddled in contemporary Australia and robbed of incentive to construct self-sufficient. Beach Road took us to the remarkable panorama of Redhead to our left. roofed in red tile. Eager to show us their Australia. The first such trip took us eight or ten kilometers south of Macquarie Street to Redhead. If the answer was "No. but then we learned from Phil more of the disadvantages of Macquarie Street. we were told. These homes. he was fiercely independent in his views. Beyond lay blue ocean and sky. with their goals of keeping retirees busy or enlarging their minds. Phil was especially afraid the university was distorting our vision. There was a surf club by the beach. stand as emblems of a new. warmed by a generous but unforgiving sun. are frivolous: older people should have acquired the gumption to accomplish those goals themselves. Even so. the Bennetts said. said the Bennetts. mutatis mutandis. for they counted these as major institutions binding the fabric of Australian life. there remained a railroad spur to carry the coal away.Early in September an estate agent's sign. a mistake that can't be undone because the extra rows were crucial to the design of the structure. Only later did they take advantage of less restrictive regulations to add brick to their garage and to the high wall they built to close off their front courtyard from the street. and Nine Mile Beach stretching yellow sands southward to Swansea Heads and the salt water Entrance to Lake Macquarie. and a sign at roadside warned against subsidence. Perched precariously between ocean and Outback. dreary. but their routes were circuitous. The price. Beyond the town center. iron-roofed houses were scattered along a road mostly barren of human habitation. Americans) bear to their land.
and mateship. Next to the lounge." The form listed a few rules. Veterans Clubs. There are two auditoriums. and Golfing Clubs." and Phil advised us that we should consider them good places to stop for drinks or meals. A gentleman must wear a shirt with a collar. we were ready to do our bit toward boosting the solvency of the club and the government of New South Wales. we drove to Cardiff a few days before the concert and found it already sold out. there is a large dining room where dinners are served a fixed price of $10. masts down. with its rows of sixteen-foot sailboats lined up outside. as do Surf Clubs. At about 11:00 a. with over three hundred electronic machines. surfers in insufficent numbers to constitute hazards for swimmers. In Cardiff. Subsequent years would be $4. A short drive from Redhead took us to the shore of Lake Macquarie at Belmont. details of which will be recorded. ready to be launched by members or visitors. Traditional one-armed bandits in electronic versions spun their cherries. which we could reach from Belmont by way of fine views of Lake Macquarie along the road to Warners Bay. There were card games. the Richard Widmark. The point of this drive seemed to be the surprising natural beauty at every turn. A TAB window accepts off-track betting. New Zealand. They didn't stop there. We would find warm welcomes. Free Sunday night movies have a special appeal in an area with few television stations and snowy reception. You can descend the Hawkesbury by boat. this seemed to mean that no sandals. a tie. and Los Angeles. the gambling room was lined side by side. good food.found parking lot and beach never crowded. carpeted. Boat Clubs. There are a sauna and exercise rooms and rooms for snooker and pool. Warmed by a couple of drinks. but assured us we would be as welcome there as at any other club. so we proceeded upstairs to a lounge where it was not too early for alcoholic drinks. papered. Hong Kong. as our main destination this morning was the Cardiff Worker's Club. Suzanne left her name and phone number at the ticket booth in case of cancellations. and chandeliered as plushly as any but the most luxurious hotels. Thinking there would be plenty of tickets available for this sudden booking. and a bewildering number of other games. and no working jeans were allowed.00. travel by rail to Ayer's Rock. solidarity. though they are sometimes out of date. The coming attraction was Warlock. We didn't go in. keno games. the ground floor coffee shop was not yet open. Phil and Dorothy took us to an interior draped. At the reception desk we signed our names to the statement required by law: "I declare I am over 18 and if required will show identification. or to even more exotic places that include New Guinea. each with its complicated rules and winning combinations . no sand shoes. however. not for a small auditorium but for a very large one.00. and Anthony Quinn adult western from 1959. when the pilots' strike brought Chuck Berry there by disrupting his tour schedule.m. and lemons. fly (when the pilots are not on strike) to Townsville for the Great Barrier Reef. but no call came. The membership fee for the first year was $7. no thongs. in the upstairs dining room. where Phil wanted to show us the Boat Club. and imagining that we would get good seats in a small union hall like those we knew in the United States. and would be generally better served than at the commercial establishments catering to tourists that we might otherwise favor. including an injunction strikingly vague in a land famed for its informality: "All temporary members must be suitably attired. Workers Clubs abound in New South Wales. racing games. besides coffee shop and bar. oranges. and nine miles of soothingly empty sands inviting long. beachcombing walks away from the small area near the surf club where lifeguards protected the swimmers. Roadside signs advertise them as "Open to the Public. Bowling Clubs (lawn bowling). Henry Fonda. We had seen the Cardiff Workers Club already. and. Tahiti. The staff arranges both group and individual tours and cruises for members. row upon row. Phil and Dorothy were not sailors.00. We sipped Scotch or wine and learned what to expect from an Australian Workers Club. which takes considerable revenue from its gambling licensing fees. Varieties of play seemed limitless. and inexpensive tariffs. The building was new and mammoth monument to industrialization." In a colored brochure specifying the requirements for longer than one-day memberships. one of them the very large one that hosted Chuck Berry.
Dorothy still had about $5. Playing five coins at a time. The Bennetts were not bowlers.00 or $6. and watched an intent young man in his early twenties. equally stingy with returning them. dot the city with their tidy greens.000. hooked on gambling.00 in twenty-cent pieces in her cup. located a few blocks from those two in a building that suggests a rival in size and influence to the Cardiff Club. Each machine blocks out any view beyond its own magical lights and images. he lost $15 within the first two or three minutes we observed him. The posted maximum for that club at that time was $100. their own club. and others probably wanted more. The list of more specialized clubs is astonishing: over sixty bowling clubs. In a room largely empty early in the day. not even those who have headed the Milk Marketing Board. not milk men. and that if unlucky he would not take his losses too hard. Here Dorothy and Barbara tried for riches. Playing such games in Australia is just as lonely and self-absorbed as in the United States. but seemed oblivious to the amount. Generally. it draws its membership from doctors. but all equally eager for coins. Play was with twenty-cent coins. Phil said. we tallied our gambling success. which she took home for another day. Much smaller than the Cardiff Workers Club. Tattersall's offered no more than a dozen gambling machines lining the wall near a bar ornamented with horse-racing scenes and portraits of famous thoroughbreds. university professors. bought at change windows by the Styrofoam cupful. which would have satisfied us. The top club. One sensed that its best days were past. but there were signs that by the end of the 1980s clubs were diminishing in their centrality to Australian life. his tally swung rapidly up and down in large increments and then he moved to a machine beyond our view. Newcastle's city directory lists several other workers and social clubs besides the three situated prominently downtown. At a dollar a spin the amount wagered must have been staggering for a young man who didn't look to have bottomless pockets. for the sporting life as epitomized in horse racing. We hoped that if lucky he would make good use of his winnings. lawyers. but we fell short. mentioned by Twain. After Cardiff. . The Bennetts had made their point about clubs. We had lost $5. Some would spin their wheels for a few seconds for nothing less than a dollar. we moved freely from game to game. for social eminence)I was struck with a sense of social stratification not entirely consistent with the myth of national egalitarianism. For most people in Newcastle. the elite-elite. Tattersall's ranks as the elite club. with teams spotlessly attired in bowling whites. Considering the different membership of these clubs (Workers. gum and palm trees. When they are in use. even if waiting lists were shorter than in the past. Those days were gone. finding some less intimidating than others.00 at Cardiff. for example. Winners of larger amounts needed to collect their jackpots at the window. the Bennetts took us to Tattersall's in Newcastle. for blue collar fellowship. Not many years before. while Phil and I drank beer. five wheels spun at as many windows with winning combinations as easy as two or three matches. they look like little patches of England curiously misplaced amidst the bright tropical birds. but in our short visit we left whole areas of the room unexplored. come out even at Tattersall's. and clear blue skies of Australia. For the next few minutes. was still the Gentleman's Club. Most offered playing in combinations of one to five coins for each spin. Signs on the walls said each machine would dispense money directly for payoffs up to $300. discussed the upcoming Melbourne Cup race. Tattersall's. It seemed possible he had been gambling all morning and was prepared to continue all afternoon. You come upon them on almost any drive. brilliant flowers. and Gentleman's. Standing not far from Tattersall's. election to membership in Tattersall's required sponsorship of a member and a wait on a list until a place became available. With our club tour completed for the day.carefully spelled out on its upright case. and the socially prominent. Much bigger than Tattersall's or the Gentleman's Club is the Newcastle Workers Club.
The home stood near the shore of an extensive lake. founded by a physician who thought Sydney was too far to go for culture. these are ornate. even if it was not the world of the ordinary bloke. it was a perfect picture of an English country house set among eucalyptus and palm trees. all lived in reasonable comfort. coal fireplaces. good feeling. and supportive.Apart from the Bennetts. while tall sashes opened to the breezes. In some lakes in Australia this may not happen for years. Because this ventilation system was not helpful during winter chills. On the other side of the house from the lake stood a tennis court. or in the suburbs outside. and on foot. Near the center of Newcastle. It spread as a broad. The smaller. Bay window projections rose two stories on each side of the front entry. the promise of a lake only to be fulfilled with the coming of the rains. library. Professors were constantly in our house or we in theirs. many deteriorated later into slum tenements where the iron grillwork that originally served for ornament became primarily a protection against breaking and entering. Through them we saw a wide variety of housing possibilities in New South Wales and learned that our newer house on the hill was by no means the rule. Uni life was thoroughly pleasant. intelligent. in mimicry of a home at Lake Windermere. Because it was a small department. that use would be folly except in winter. The house rose two full stories around a central hall and elegant. one-story. balustraded stairway. This was a world that Phil urged us to escape whenever possible for it would distort our picture of the real Australia. our Australian mates were university faculty. its grass slowly greening in spring. the fireplace heat was more than welcome on our visits--much as it would have been in the damp chills of England. it spoke eloquently and nostalgically of the solid and the settled. a curved English driveway passed around a towering palm tree with a huge bougainvillaea spreading its green leafy vines and scarlet flowers thirty feet or more up the trunk. university students. and heavy wine consumption led to quicker bonds of friendship than would be likely in similar circumstances in Ann Arbor. by motorcycle. but Australia failed to cooperate. Although we drew these conclusions from friends in one department in one university. weatherboard homes of the neighborhood kept the respectful distances required by fealty to the manor and looked ready to doff their iron roofs should it pass amongst them in its stuccoed and tiled majesty. and contemporary arts shops abounded. or university social functions. Elsewhere. we found little evidence elsewhere to contradict them. and elaborate interior plasterwork. Although financial independence at fifty-three was probably outside their dreams. those who sat down to dinner were often the same guests from previous occasions. We were wined and dined by an English Department faculty far more friendly and cohesive than we knew in the United States. and our daughters left in the same manner for town. Beneath the marble mantel. Built in a time of prosperity. flat basin of dirt and dust. Our friends burnished their floors and banisters and painstakingly restored their plasterwork. the cast-iron fireplace was meant for coal. faculty lived variously on the hillsides or in the flats of the many smaller and distinct districts of the city. In contrast to the low. Most of the coal mined in this area is now shipped to Japan. Generally our university friends had not prospered in the way of the milkman across the street. sometimes on two salaries. . Not far away stands the Newcastle Art Gallery. brick-faced bungalows of Macquarie Street. some faculty inhabited late nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century homes of brick or stone. Heavy shutters blocked out the summer sun. the area began the transformation of gentrification. for our daughters. The large rooms boasted extraordinarily high ceilings with ornamental grills at the top of the walls placed to cover ducts that allowed the warm air of summer to rise and exhaust itself outside. Constructed around the turn of the century. not far from the convict prisons of the 1820s. curio. however. friendly. In English homes they would have been situated to catch the morning and evening sun. Never in our several visits did we see water in the lake. Australians are open. with high ceilings. A house that Richard Mahony might have aspired to. west of Newcastle. Here. Students arrived by car. Directly in front of the house. and. Antique furniture. Nearby was a swimming pool. but in place of the blue flicker of burning coal there was the red and yellow of a wood fire. Shared interests. John and Pam Burrows lived in a coal baron's house in Maitland. With Newcastle's revived fortunes of the 1980s. luxurious homes of the more solid stone or brick of another era.
Cambridge. The Australian countryside seems ageless here. vital and separate. it is said. looking toward England. cattle. At their extremes. London. Because the paths of international literary scholarship intersect so often.000. Maitland was a destination. of Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. promising a pastoral life based in sheep. too. New Haven. now long gone. greenish blue in the distance and in the near view mottled with the browns and blacks of the gum tree trunks and the grey of the boulders that lie between them. Maitland and Wollombi are as different as their English and Aboriginal names.In these surroundings. This is the "cultural cringe" deplored by social commentators. Outward from Maitland spread fertile plains and valleys. In a former coal baron's house in Maitland. more recently. The fortunes of Richard Mahony played out in tragedy because he could not escape his pommy identity and become more of digger. Under the overhangs or partly in the caves. but clearly and proudly Australian. a study of Jane Austen recently published by Oxford University Press. and the Aborigines. was Australia. Further out in the country. we talked of shared places. Wollombi stands in rugged hills. In 1989 the population neared 40. of Ann Arbor. the eucalyptus and palm trees. A small stream cuts through the valley. The few cars on the road seem to belong to tourists from Sydney taking a scenic route to the Hunter Valley wineries. but a day-tripper would find it hard to imagine where so many can live in an area almost without visible habitation. On the Great Northern Road built by convicts from Wiseman's Ferry into the Hunter Valley. and of an ongoing discussion John was having with our Michigan friend Sheridan Baker over similar analysis of Henry Fielding's work. and grapes. but none of these are visible from the road. By the late 1980s the population was listed as 150. and the bougainvillaea in bloom to know that this. Australian academia mediates between these extremes. A visitor encounters it everywhere as a struggle between loyalty to an Australian identity. conversation centered much more on intellectual and political matters than it did at the Bennetts'. This was not Phil's and Dorothy's world. Australians can hardly speak of their country's relations with England and the United States in words unshadowed by consciousness of the potential for cultural. The government at Canberra balances an encouragement of strong national identity with a vigorous maintenance of historic cultural connections through programs like the one that brought us to Australia and the well-funded sabbatical and research leaves that send Australian academics on their frequent visits to Europe and North America. . and loyalty to cultural values forged in England--and. a few county folk inhabit ramshackle homes. or "pommies" serving out their time in an alien environment to which they have been condemned by an unkind fate. riddled with boulders and forested with eucalyptus. and friends now or formerly resident there. tempered by the American experience. and of the possibilities for literary analysis explored by books like John's Computation into Criticism. and Edinburgh. of the Australian and British Prime Ministers and the American President. Wollombi only a convenient stopping place. We spoke of political parties. Both settled by the British in the early nineteenth-century. In 1857 a rail link between Sydney and Maitland left the Wollombi road largely superfluous and in the same decade the gold rush over the Blue Mountains turned the Wollombi settlement into a forgotten backwater. but we had only to look at the dusty lake. and intellectual isolation under their blue and sunny skies so far from London or New York. meandering among smaller deposits of rounded grey rocks. but was firmly connected to intellectual currents from the English-speaking powers of the northern hemisphere. we found an adjustment that looked and felt more like Australia. The spirit of the place evokes the tens of thousands of years before the coming of Europeans. English. Australians are either "diggers" blustering through life carrying chips of imperial wrongs on their shoulders. and American literature. in the home of another academic friend. Giant overhanging rocks and rocky caves dot the hillsides. we found one kind of cultural adjustment. infuse the hills with their brooding and ghostly presence. political. a dusty. Oxford. We talked of Australian. The hills are beautiful. and later supported by the riches in coal that lay underground.
with bathroom in the center. Hence. one-room cabin with dirt-floored lean-to kitchen and shaggybark roof that Henry Lawson was born in and gave to the drover's wife. she has threatened to shoot them out. and held breath and crossed fingers. shaded by the peak of the house. with what the land provides. and gas tank every time it is driven over. the forest echoes the timber in tall. I don't think our Holden could have made it. and called from the freestanding public phone booth. with Hugh squatting to tend the meat. Outside. Like many other people. airy eating area beside the kitchen. This was probably the worst road I have ever encountered. In this place a well could not be drilled without huge and perhaps wasted expense. Higher on a facing hill lives a solitary woman who prizes the night's total darkness. but took us up in his. perhaps 30 feet long by 12 feet wide: kitchen. straight. a one-room public building. in a homestead invisible from the road. Because when they bought the house they found the living area too dark for Catherine. winding climb over loose stones and half-buried boulders. This is a place for four-wheel drive. Inside. the great Australian thirst for beer. who is a painter. They pump their wash water up the hill from the pond below. The cabin walls of sandstone blocks look hewn in place out of the rocky hillside that supports them. On the open veranda we were joined by another Wollombi couple for steak and sausage grilled above a wood fire built on the ground. The picture was much more Outback than suburban throw-another-shrimp-on-the-barbie. In a large tank in the bathroom they store dirty water from tub and sink for secondary use in flushing the toilet. still living trees. Until bullets hit something it is impossible to tell where they are aimed. with roof joists but no iron covering. But this is still make-do. lounge. transmission. On the other side are the sleeping rooms. storing in a tank the runoff from the infrequent rains. for if water were found it might not be drinkable. since it is often too saline for human consumption.Wollombi is about an hour from Newcastle. as instructed. The unroofed veranda provides an outdoor. we drove to the town center. The indoor fireplace or wood-burning stove might have served. by way of Kurri Kurri and Cessnock. On one side is a large common room. On Hugh's three and a half acres. work area. we followed him back along the main road for a few kilometers and then parked at a wide place on a side road where the ground was still flat. springs. When Hugh came to meet us. Hugh and Catherine have a view of their small pond in the valley many feet below and of another hill rising in unbroken forest across the way. A savage. a one-room store. As if to punctuate the threat. but by this time it was late winter and already warm enough to make outdoor living . far from the lights of the cities. One of our colleagues lived on the side of a hill. shots occasionally ring from the bush near her house. rock shelving. constructed with a view toward permanence that places it in apparent oneness with the landscape. Wollombi hills are as uncrowded as Australian cities are dense. To coordinate these uses and make that part of their life easier. the space is divided in half longitudinally. The iron must have been brought in. they installed skylights that illuminate the interior but also provoke wrath in a neighbor. From the roofed veranda. Australian country life has come a long way from the slab-sided. sits a solid frontier cabin. log headers and joists support the timber framing for a peaked roof of corrugated iron. mostly. it could not be reduced to a civil state except by huge. He didn't want us to risk our car on the drive to his house. Hugh and Catherine use their roof to collect drinking water. and would not have wanted to try. they planned to install a concrete storage cistern on the slope above their house. the water is more likely intended for the livestock than for the people. with no funds set aside for public maintenance. There is no well. In the many places in the Australian countryside where we saw water tanks and windmills. Here. The space above the common room is open to the rafters. reinforced springs. Above the walls. a one-room antique shop where we found and purchased a forty-five-year-old carved wooden figure from New Guinea. an endangerment to tires. A veranda 8 or 10 feet wide and also roofed with iron runs along the side facing the valley and meets a second veranda. and wheel ruts cut deeply and permanently into hard-packed soil. nestled against a steep upthrust of sandstone and hardscrabble soil. private road. Hugh said. and high axles. Now. on the side where the small yard spreads into a children's play area. To get there. angered by the night-time glow from the skylights. a steep. earth-moving machinery dedicated to a project far beyond the means and possibly the desires of the people who use it.
Red-bellied black snakes inhabit the area. Much bigger than a woodchuck hole. your music. along with others perhaps no less dangerous. stroked his head. or else up it. Wollombi residents determinedly maintain their corner of the "real" Australia. the proper attitude is "No worries. We had become accustomed to the sight of Australian woods burning. In Wollombi. . Hugh and Catherine's small children played around the loose stone wall that edged the veranda and Catherine warned them not to stick their fingers into holes because of spiders. Then we closely examined the undergrowth ahead and continued on. No wombat was visible." Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken faced one another across the parking lot of the shopping center just off campus. and your fast food. From Wollombi to Jane Austen is a distance not easily measured in miles and years. as toward our beast from under the door. set to burn away some of the lush growth that followed an unusual period of heavy rain in the previous fall and had now turned dry as tinder. It was clearly not a place you wanted your donkey to stumble into. Hugh and Catherine were recently puzzled by large." After eating. that Australia seems less remote from North America than the one in Wollombi. we saw smoke above the bush and lines of fire running up yet another hill that from this new vantage point rose opposite us. above its eyes. Excursions into Popular Culture On the grounds of the University of Newcastle. and perhaps others of the myriad Hunter Valley possibilities. But some cultural currents flow both ways and others are undistinguishable as to origin. the donkey bucked and shied at something in the bushes we didn't see. mate. On the wooded hillside. There was Toohey's and Foster's beer. yellow-crested cockatoos roost in trees bearing ancient Aboriginal wounds. Still. The second wife in our party had encountered a black snake with a distinct red band across its head. patted his heaving sides. Apart from observations on the snakes and the view. Toward such encounters. but wondered now what dangers were posed for homes like the one we had just left by the common uncontrolled fires. Tyrrell's Long Flat Red. but they didn't know what they were. We held him by the reins with difficulty. the stream. thankful that the child he was carrying had dismounted earlier to walk with us. We learned that Wollombi country life is distinguished by its curious life forms difficult to identify even by longtime residents. and set off for a hike across the small valley by the pond below and then up and around the side of the facing hill. on the other side of the main road below. with comparisons between American and Australian writers at the forefront. and soon calmed him. it looked almost as though someone had been digging with an intent to lay sewer pipe. colorful slugs entering the house at night. When they were through eating. In the flat we saw our first wombat hole. placed smaller ones in backpacks. From almost every vantage point the view over the valley.attractive. their habits are nocturnal. but perhaps they knew which holes to keep fingers away from. we saddled a donkey for one of the children. arguments that English literature is irrelevant to Australians strike with more force than in Maitland. although it was almost certainly a snake or other wild creature. A colleague remarked of our students that "They won't know much about your literature. that reared up and threatened her like a cobra. and they worry lest others discover its attractions and begin to move in. but they will know your movies. an entrance at least ten inches in diameter. the talk was mostly literary. The world of Henry Lawson or of Henry Handel Richardson seems much closer. They seemed to ignore her and she didn't insist. Lindeman's Chardonnay. since snakes can move much more quickly downward than up. but neither she nor others could say what species it belonged to. and the other hills was spectacular. Returning down the hill to our car. but the incident brought out the advice that when attacked by an aggressive snake one should run either sideways on the hill. the pond. The patterned lines suggested that these were probably controlled fires.
singing "The Banks of the Ohio. On the road to the Junction. television programs originating in Australia found small audiences there. Jason Donovan. with "Happy Days" providing their dominant images for the lives of American young people. the snow) suggested New England to eyes that see New Englandly. In Australia the movie struck powerful chords unconnected to North America. Our own situation on top of a hill with a good antenna gave us a reception most Newcastle people could not match. he read Thoreau's description of the ant battle in Walden (a curious shared memory. lyrics. British and Oxford educated. an Australian. When we made that suggestion. a behavior we were told was rare in Aussie movie theaters. In 1993. however. as an alumnus. On Australian television. About classic American literature our students were as ignorant as we had been warned. a neighboring teen-ager in Ann Arbor told us the show was then being broadcast on Canadian television. of the Uni English Department. was a young. Meanwhile. some plagued by flutter or fading. discover that I had not lived. and see if I could not learn what it had to teach. It was a good likeness of life at that school. Moreover. although I had heard that the actual school buildings caught by the camera were in Delaware. It was apparently not always so. when I came to die. transmuted into popular music in the 1950s with minimal changes in melody. And of course the director was Peter Weir. John Burrows told us he supposed the story was based on his old boarding school in Sydney. John Burrows told us that one of the earliest times that literature sprang to life for him was when. had never read Walden and seemed not to recognize it as one of the great books of the nineteenth century. Welton Academy. prompting curious identifications in both places. very young. Certainly the physical environment (the woods. which Alison and Suzanne watched with interest. situation comedies and soap operas came more frequently from the United States than from England. the autumn leaves. he would not entirely recommend. we discovered that many of our students would be unable to receive the broadcast because Australian television had a more limited reach than television in America. where young people regularly follow the Aboriginal lead and go "walkabout" not just in Australia but around the world. with some Michiganders picking it up on their cable services. It left its theme song with us. Viewers may remember that the film makes much of Thoreau's assertion in Walden: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. An exception was Neighbors. I had assumed that the school in the film. Its star. can almost see still the pages in the grade school reader where I first encountered that scene). Nevertheless when we mentioned Thoreau to our Contemporary American Literature class at the time the film was showing. On the other hand. and there seemed to be no cable or few takers. Even so. Australia's answer to Happy Days. broadcast as a mini-series in the United States not long before we left. blond Australian. was shown in Australia at a point when it seemed reasonable to recommend it to our class for its presentation of a contemporary novel and a literary genre missing from our syllabus. and not. and delivery. handsome and wholesome. we provoked no glimmer of recognition. was based on Milton Academy or a similar New England preparatory school for boys. even when we spelled the name on the blackboard. too. told us he thought the film typically Australian in depicting the relationship between the boys. Such crossings of Australian and American culture were frequent. true to its folk origins in the nineteenth century. "Is it really like that in the U. we joined in singing as a Newcastle radio station transmitted into our Holden the voice of Olivia Newton-John. and our girls can still sing it.?" we were asked.The movie Dead Poets Society played in Michigan before we left and in New South Wales while we were there.S. just as the character played by Robin Williams was modeled on a professor at the University of Connecticut." That message requires little translation in New South Wales ("bush" for "woods" would convey it Australian citizenship). born in Newcastle. Occasionally. . a newer program arrived. Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. a younger teacher in the department. to front only the essential facts of life. we had access to only six stations. which. who eventually left the show. Apart from news and sports." one of the finest American folk songs. but the vision they conveyed was askew and out of date. however. since I. Neighbors became a major hit in Great Britain. Peter Weir was a product of the same school. Audiences applauded enthusiastically at the end. and their North American model for walkabout was Kerouac rather than Thoreau. Paul Kavanagh.
In this instance. Details provided for baseball were few. some of Dame Edna's disquieting colors had been laid on by a television set that badly needed adjusting. Every evening the halfhour of international political. When it ended. John Burrows remembered playing it in his youth to fill in the slow times between one cricket season and the next. Each night Kennedy's sidekick admonished him once again for insulting the Queen. Alison and I flipped on the motel television in Utah or Colorado to be greeted with a vision of purple. apart from sports. who was hugely gifted with an irrepressible smirk and wonderful rolling eyes." Or again. . cricket. isn't she? "Too right. much of the humor was too puzzlingly British and Australian to bring laughter to motel rooms in the American West. Each night Kennedy presented another form of apology. after all. she had prophesized Jason's great future even before he could walk. joined arm-in-arm by the six men who had fallen down the elevator shaft. as they all sang "Neighbors. Since this show was taped in London. uplift? The picture of wide-eyed innocence. An older. but were unable for a long time to discover whether the games were continued. he was paired each evening at 10:30 with a stolid and sober younger man whose darkly handsome features made him a favorite with female viewers." Dame Edna's was not Mr. Jokes filled in the spaces between news spots. he couldn't see anything wrong with expressing his admiration. round-faced and owl-eyed man. and she mimed her earlier self peering into a nappy spread out across her hands. economic. when his father was a well-known Australian entertainer. We heard the scores of the early World Series games that year. Dame Edna said she had known Jason Donovan from his infancy. Dame Edna's major network specials on American television have been uncharacteristically tame. After a bit that ended with half a dozen men falling down an elevator shaft. grinning broadly at the camera. Driving cross-country in May 1993. and sometimes coming in the last few seconds to a few words about an American baseball World Series game. Much else on Australian television was less interesting. Dame Edna brought on²with drum rolls²JASON DONOVAN. reading the coming years not from cards or tea leaves. I wish I could say the same. since Edna's unfettered humor is too broad for American networks." was doubtless the reply from a high proportion of viewers. Although baseball was not a major interest in Australia. and she (or he) at that time a much younger neighbor who sometimes babysat. she and Jason stood before the studio audience. Came the answer." Hugely entertaining. Even a queen is a woman. Broadcasts of events ranged from Australian Rules Football at home to Cricket Test Matches from England. fleshy and long in the tooth. . His partner didn't know. The most popular television personality in 1989 was Graham Kennedy. delivered with the patented eye roll. whose Graham Kennedy Coast to Coast ranked consistently on top of the late night ratings. when Australians would have played under the influence of American . he endeared himself to viewers with qualities that we watched with slight bemusement. but others were her own and nothing was too outrageous for her persona. disrupted. a male crossdresser with gloriously tasteless costumes and outrageous opinions. he insisted. Other bits were more accessible. Together they dissected the news of the day. Each night the show reported new telephone calls and letters from shocked viewers. and green. shape.An Australian television phenomenon quite different from Jason Donovan was Dame Edna. Number one and number two. This was the high point of the program. Even now she said. When Kennedy noted the admirable qualities of Queen Elizabeth's breasts in his commentary on a news clip. "The dollar was firmer this morning. fumbling at garlands of necklace pearls and adjusting earrings that resembled gilded and sequined Calder mobiles. or cancelled as a result of the California earthquake. she could remember the details. swimming. everybody needs good neighbors. didn't she? Size. and social news was followed by another half-hour of sports. bicycle racing. soccer. He hadn't meant anything objectionable or unflattering. his observations initiated a running commentary that lasted a week or more. . This may have been the 1940s. "Crabs on the organ. But she did have nice ones for a woman her age. This took us around the world. yellow. but the syndicated show springs upon viewers in unexpected places. A gifted fortune-teller. tennis. Rogers's neighborhood. but instead from the condition of his soiled nappy ("diaper" to Americans). the younger straight man appearing genuinely shocked at the irreverence of Kennedy. It was difficult to imagine Dan Rather or Ted Koppel in his role. "What's worse than a lobster on the piano?" Kennedy asked.
" and "Being the Parent in Australia. when the recent exploits of Babe Ruth were still so greatly admired by people like Phil Bennett. the Greek owner of a fruit stand called Con's Peach and Pear Parthenon. immigrant. Marika. This foreign language emphasis struck us as odd at first. The Wizard of Oz. but on the other hand an Indian scholar we met at a dinner party a few nights later told us he had taped the whole show to send to his parents in Delhi." The book is not without amusing qualities. "A view of Melbourne nightlife. Czechoslovakia. Staples of comedy included cross-dressing. as exemplified by Dame Edna. Especially if you like me² bending over the rail and looking at him after every meal. which one of Alison's Australian immigrant friends presented to her as a parting gift just before we left for the United States. ." the book derives much humor from Greek. television merged with popular literature in Con's Bewdiful Australia: A Guide to the Second-Best Country in the World. "Ten thousand miles! You really get to know the sea that way. and broad ethnic humor extended a boundary or two beyond areas generally considered acceptable in the U. Australian television featured many American movies. Greece. Probably related to this initiative was the broadcast in three two-hour segments of Peter Brooks's Mahabharata. an admirable attempt to condense a work of immense length and complexity into a few hours. with at the end a long segment of Ray Bolger dancing that was cut from the original." An accumulation of observations with chapter titles like "Australia: A Brief History of Him. undubbed. she make sure to write down only what I tell him. but it may also have been a practice from the dull and dusty days of the Great Depression.S." Outside of television and books. Poland. spent little time in bars. In this instance. We did not frequent workers' clubs. with English subtitles. Agape. and Australian stereotypes. Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. Ethnic humor and cross-dressing supported one another nicely in popular sketches featuring a character named Con Dikaletis. and delivers its jokes often as one-liners." Of his ocean trip from Greece to Australia he observes. Hungary. considering the few channels available." A generous supply of photographs with comic captions pads out its thin substance to 101 pages. They have the football." "The Young Peoples. I can't believe it found much of an Australian audience. MY FATHER IS A BIG LAZY MAN." Con holds up a pair of army boots: "A tip from Con: When you buy the shoes. "You had to be there. who appeared also in a wiry wig as his wife. Public television showed many films from France. but common on other shows as well. . Somebody in the family died²early in the Persian war. and a tedious filming of Richard Farina's campus revolt novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me. always make sure you choose a pair that you and your wife can both wear. Live television featured dating game shows and dance contests. John didn't say. stayed not long enough into the summer to become more than ." and to his typist. Chevy Chase in European Vacation. Russia. attended no Australian Rules Football matches. and other generally European countries. "my bewdiful little daughter. including among those that came to our notice Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo. A run of Sir Laurence Olivier films in the month after his death frequently featured interviews with Australian actors who had known or worked with him. Marika. .servicemen. played in no cricket games. but I wondered if this was where Australians and other British colonia cricket players acquired the free-swinging batting style that sometimes in the years after the war seemed an alien incursion into the world of British defensive tapping from a bat that never moved far from its vertical position in front of the stumps. bowled on no greens. I THINK THIS BOOK IS STUPID AND YOU SHOULD NO BUY HIM. The type of humor in Con's bewdiful book is signaled in the dedication to the author's "bewdiful wife. but then seemed not so odd when we came to consider the programming as supportive of Australia's national push toward a multicultural society." "Australia: His Capital Cities." A chapter sub-heading on "Australians and the Sex" leads to just two sentences: "The Australians no have the sex. the latter an Australian institution that forms the background for the highly entertaining Australian film Ballroom Dancing. Con's mother "always wore black clothing because she was in mourning. our contacts with Australian popular culture were limited. Under a totally black rectangle the caption reads. but as the young peoples say.
Meeting an American. these men stood crowded together on a long platform raised slightly above the crowd. as at an English racetrack. Many spectators. Behind the stands. for example. Despite the fact that too many buildings are set up to sell souvenirs and refreshments (a problem with similar historic reconstructions in the United States). Much more interesting than the TAB windows to us were the bookmakers. and theme parks of the most popular areas. The most important race. within walking distance of our house. One of the most ambitious of these is Old Sydney Town. the race track. and log cabins. for the Melbourne Cup. since prior to our revolution English convicts were sent to Georgia. or the hovels of hessian cloth (burlap) stretched between poles that turn up regularly in the literature of bush deprivation. Convicts. Mostly the suggestion in this cabin and elsewhere within the settlement is of small but comfortable living. in a country where almost every town advertises itself as a vacation destination for inhabitants of some other town. with races run regularly at Newcastle's Broadmeadow Racecourse. and they stood in line at TAB windows there to bet large amounts of money on those other races. pickpockets and petty thieves entertain the women by attempting to steal their rings. the house belonging to the settlement's astronomer is especially interesting in its difference from the log cabin structure associated with frontier American life. Employees wear period dress and talk and act period parts. There are brick houses. Then logs were narrowed at their ends and dropped into the slots. but if the reproduction was there we missed it. sometimes tiled. Some buildings are of cut sandstone. For an American. The astronomer. and we chose not to try the TAB.mildly curious about surfing either as participants or spectators. Old Sydney Town manages to convey some sense of late eighteenth. opposite the TAB windows and TV monitors. and the whole is supposed to represent the historic arrangement. Broadmeadow is not a major track and was pleasantly uncrowded at meets we attended. an attempt to recreate the buildings and atmosphere of the first settlement. and developed no enthusiasm for agricultural shows or dance contests. . we could not resist entirely the tourist exhibits. too. trekked into no wilderness bush areas. We would like to have gotten to Melbourne. was informative and entertaining. In Old Sydney Town. as in the log cabin that Lincoln was born in. Nevertheless. Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in Victoria and has very nearly the status of a national holiday in other places as Aussies everywhere stop their business to place bets and await the outcome: the Newcastle street map shows over thirty TAB locations where offtrack wagers may be placed. There is not much indication in Old Sydney Town of the slab-sided huts with stringybark roofs. although it was not made clear to a visitor how much of the plan is known and how much is conjecture. they are eager to remind us it is our fault they have been sent to rot in this beastly climate. To construct it.and early nineteenth-century life in Australia's first settlement. Seats in the stands a few feet from the finish line were easy to find because many racegoing club members sat in luxurious boxes high above the action. A few houses and shops have names and brief histories of people who lived in the originals inscribed on signs next to their doors. the streets bear names from Sydney. The houses seem more or less honest attempts to reproduce particular buildings and construction methods of the period. wattle and daub houses. sometimes shingled. upright posts were situated about six feet apart and slotted down their sides. some more successfully than others. but were butted into the uprights at regular intervals. sent to map the southern stars as an aid to navigation. but we were drawn more than once to another icon of Australian popular culture. A plan of the settlement shows the home of a John Perkins. One visit to Old Sydney Town was enough. found the races at other tracks shown continuously on TV monitors in areas behind the stands more interesting than the Broadmeadow races. Instead of horizontal logs notched at the corners of the building and laid alternately one on top of each other. we couldn't resist. One offered me a bottle of rum and a chook's (chicken's) leg for Laura. the miamias (aboriginal bark shelters). Still. but found it nearly impossible. so that they ran horizontally. twenty or thirty of whom were licensed to take bets. reproducing as nearly as possible the conditions of an English village in order to stamp the signature of civilization on the southern bush. near Gosford. this makes use of a slotted-post design. has been run on the first Tuesday in November since 1861. Roofs are sometimes thatched. souvenir shops.
alert. Patronizing these men seemed a much more human way of betting than passing money over a counter and past an iron grillwork in pursuit of computer-generated betting odds. with its horse stalls lined up on two sides of a broad lawn and two exercise rings. saddled and awaiting the start. a transplanted Englishman who published 32 books. the lesson learned. All Australians are horsemen in the popular mind. Since each set his own odds. Many in the stands were inveterate race-goers. Bongo Rhythm looked like a different horse from the proud and energetic beast we had admired when he was hobbled. The paddock area. which came neither from training nor experience. Betting mostly on long shots. Bongo Rhythm was sleek. Because this would be our last race for the day. bet. however. He stood sullen and somnolent. Our remarkable ability to pick losers. and few. before Visa." A simpler Australia. who was alone with me in the paddock at that time while the others were betting or collecting winnings. as occasionally a glance at a neighboring board convinced a bookmaker that his odds on a horse were too high or too low. When race time came. The horse didn't win. and theme parks recreating early settlements. we might have done well enough on our first bet of the first day to carry us with profit throughout the afternoon. however. On a blackboard beside him. she placed her bet all ways and made money when he came in third. television. and intelligent. mostly younger people. We enjoyed walking by the stalls. Much of that simplicity emerges for mystery story fans in the novels of Arthur W. On the back cover of Con's Bewdiful Australia. His brown coat shone with health and careful currying. five thousand dollars on the Visa.promoting their odds. It also provided the extra challenge of trying to find the bookie with the best odds on the horse we selected and getting the bet placed before a swipe and a chalk mark placed him in line with the others. about one a year from . armed with tip sheets and binoculars. went down to trackside to see the winner lead the parade off the track at the end of each race. and most had assistants to help collect money and change the odds as the bets came in. Those who don't ride. He needed to run. fast food. I decided to abandon him and try another 50 to 1 shot. trying to decide which would run best. TAB. Staying away from the unknown term. One horse. and fifty thousand dollars to the TAB. I placed a $2. his wife Marika says he wrote the book because "he owe so much to Australia. Hobbled on his front feet--the only horse we saw so restrained all afternoon--he was bursting with an energy that suggested he would kick and bite if given the opportunity. who left their places primarily to place bets and collect winnings. Sometimes on long shots the different odds were subtantial. this time betting all ways in hopes of making up for the near miss of the first race so I could leave the track a winner. his distinctive muscle tone gone slack." the latter a puzzling possibility. Bongo Rhythm. each man advertised the odds he was giving on each horse in the upcoming race. With Bongo Rhythm's odds at 7 to 1. we generally split our bets between to win and each way. Surely. Mostly we continued to lose. Setting odds from an ever-changing accumulation of betting slips clearly made rapid mental calculations a necessity in their profession. Bets were either "to win" or "each way. Suzanne could not believe the sleepy horse we saw under the saddle would fail to come alive on the track. Brought out of the stall. feeds and restores the popular imagination. and although we had planned to leave we decided to stay for his run. Meanwhile. if the jockey could keep him on the track he would bury the other horses in his dust. Not all was untrammeled individualism. remained similarly uncrowded. his fiery eyes dimmed with boredom. if only we had at that time understood the system. He was scheduled for the seventh race. No such luck. must have been innate. Upfield. and a swipe and a new chalking would change the figures. significant differences sometimes emerged between one board and the next. but it did come in third and I discovered then that the same bet placed "each way" would have netted $30 or $40. judging the horses. struck me immediately as a winner and I pointed out his qualities to Suzanne. Most displayed little interest in the horses apart from their performance. Many others were couples spending a day at the races as one of many pleasures they might have chosen. Three thousand dollars on the Bankcard. Later. I developed doubts.00 bet on a 50 to 1 shot to win.
Young. solid Anglo-Saxon virtues dominate. served in World War I. He boasts that he has never failed and that he cannot. For a visitor to Australia. University educated. first published in 1954. It was reprinted in 1984 in a handsome. Among more recent books feeding the widespread nostalgia for an earlier time in Australia.1928 almost to his death in 1964. another peculiarity to ponder in the strange Australian landscape. A thousand years are as nothing in this timeless land. Arthur Upfield came to Australia around 1910 and worked many of the traditional outback jobs. That's from Sinister Stones. A. Upfield's Australia is a man's world. dug for opals. .. as Bony's success demonstrates. the latter especially interesting for its echoes of fierce independence and anti-government sentiments that supported Ned Kelly and other bushrangers in the nineteenth century. fencer. First published in 1981. rarely. many of them drive our cars and trucks and are able to repair windmills and pumps." Born in 1892. an astonishing total in a country with one-fifteenth the population of the United States. but in our country Collier Books for years kept twenty or more titles in print in its Scribner Crime Classic series.000 copies within three years. waiting to be touched around the next bend. he will be the same man as were his forebears ten thousand years ago. Facey's A Fortunate Life is especially interesting. They're full of knowledge and helpful in their own country and are nervous and suspicious when away from it. and raciallyintolerant country where Bony's intellect. despite the veneer imposed on him by our civilisation. and when the last Aboriginal sinks down to die." There is always another horizon. for time is on his side and his Aboriginal patience and keen mind will eventually decode the inevitable clues. . or. In this simpler time and place few shadows obscure the differences between right and wrong. by giggling. It's a hard-drinking. a Detective Inspector with the Queensland Police. These are Bony's words about bush Aborigines: These Aborigines have many traits similar to dogs . accomplishments. Be patient. Most follow the exploits of the half-Aboriginal Napolean Bonaparte. lavishly illustrated edition that claimed: . We feed them and clothe them. Bony looks through blue eyes out of a dark skin and a mind half white and half black. who is generally on leave to solve mysteries that have baffled local authorities in other parts of Australia. and. it seems to reflect the attitudes of its time. boundary rider. He picked fruit. B. . by poisoning. but sometimes with fascinating deftness. hard-smoking. when its author was 85. "Bony" to his friends. and we bring them to understand enough of our language to communicate. the land is still there. mule-team driver. Facey was a native Australian whose first and only book came over half a century after the creator of Bony began his long writing career. where women display strong emotion by melting before Bony's piercing blue eyes. even a half-Abo can make his way. and Border's Bookstore in Ann Arbor for years kept as many as a dozen titles on its shelves. he lived the itinerant life dear to an Australian imagination that celebrates Banjo Paterson's "Man from Snowy River" and understands the forces that make "a man long to break away and travel" in Henry Lawson's "Drover's Wife. in the decade when the Australian government was making its first serious efforts to treat Aborigines as a people capable of being educated. Among the best are Death of a Lake. . His mysteries frequently turn on peculiarities of the Australian landscape and its interaction with characters he handles often stiffly. but he has much to recommend him in his depiction of place and his evocation of an ethos that seems hardly changed by paved roads and shopping malls. It takes years of association and study to reach even the middle of the bridge spanning the gulf between them and us. still tied to the past of its people. including sheep shearer. In all of this. and unfailing good humor earn him uncommon respect despite his half-caste status. and Bony and the Kelly Gang. . Anthony Boucher of The New York Times once called him "my favorite fictional detective of the past twenty years. Readers disconcerted by such attitudes may find their enjoyment of Upfield limited. The Will of the Tribe. They smoke our tobacco and ride our horses. I didn¶t know whether Detective Inspector Bonaparte was as popular in Australia as he was in the United States. Facey's autobiography sold 160. Two years younger than Upfield.
The roof was bush timber and galvanised iron. Earlier. Active in unions and local government. Aborigines seem friendly until forced to steal cattle to replace meat lost by white killing of kangaroos. he became a memorable spinner of yarns. the kitchen. There are stories of Albert as the abandoned child and as a young boy lost in the bush. Bush brutality forms part of it: Facey is abandoned. Water too salty to drink must be distilled for human consumption. brutally beaten. himself as he tells his story. In retirement. and this had a fireplace at one end and a large table with a long stool along one wall. when veterans' benefits brought him minimal schooling. and as the family man. Born in 1894. A Fortunate Life stands as late evidence of the Sydney Bulletin's 1890s assertion that every man has a story to tell. where bush fires destroy lives and livelihoods. After that it took off. leaving the hessian hut behind. he began to record his life in "school exercise books. sometimes with the iron on the rough weather sides to the north and west as well as on the roof. to form the walls.000 copies in the first year. Facey remained virtually without education until after World War I. as the mate of itinerant bush workers. sat him down with a tape recorder. Bush poverty forms another: hired out as a boy. After a neighbor typed the manuscript. very late. it doesn't show in his narrative. There is also the humpy his aunt and uncle build after they move to a new property. Physical. entertaining his family for decades with accounts of his early life. spiritual. well-read and self-conscious in their employment of time-honored writers' devices. he learned that skill. and cultural squalor abound in a country where black snakes enter houses to have their heads struck off by women with shovels. Facey's draw their strength from common experiences and imaginative responses that help define a national identity. No sophisticated secondary point of view overlays his naive narrator. and the roof is . The result is a storehouse of information on Australian material culture. remembered from 1899: It consisted of bush poles for uprights with hessian pulled tight around the poles making an exposed space of thirty-six feet by twelve feet. Like all myths. The outside walls were whitewashed with a solution of chalky clay mixed with water which stiffened the hessian and made the inside private. Here we learn what a bush house looked like as he describes the home of his Aunt Alice. so the story runs. he is cheated of his wages. The kitchen was fourteen feet by sixteen feet. although he learned to sign documents with an X and later with a shaky approximation of his name. Elsewhere he describes other homes of poles. as the young Australian male 'bloodied' at Gallipoli. and nearly killed with a stock-whip when still a child. The three rooms of the hut were used as bedrooms. there are now hundreds of poles set on end. sub-divided into three big rooms. battling against the depression of the thirties. it was sent to the Fremantle Arts Centre Press. Editors at Fremantle saw the potential. he could neither read nor write." apparently as a legacy to his family. selling 8. and galvanized iron. after.Facey has given flesh to many central myths of Australian culture. and Miles Franklin. He takes all these ideas and makes them real and believable. revised and edited. Those bush writers of the turn of the century culled from little or less schooling serious literary habits that marked them as writers by temperament. Calculated to give voice to the Australian bush. the Bulletin's attitude and editorial policies helped spawn writers like Henry Lawson. beyond the desire that twenty copies be printed for his family. A few feet away from the hut was another structure. hessian cloth. Facey has none of their literary qualities. In place of the cloth. with no ambition for publication. Outlaws live by cattle duffing ("rustling" to Americans). If he was ever a reader. as 'the Sentimental Bloke' in the love story between Albert and Evelyn. where dingoes threaten stock and their howls send chills up the spines of drovers camped under the stars. Sweaty family Christmas celebrations draw inevitably toward brawls and brutish intoxication. Joseph Furphy. side by side in trenches. Settlers must sink wells and damn streams before the outback will sustain their families and stock. and brought out the book.
He and the men with him are told how each new candle is lit from the one before. whom he leads back to the kill. If the house was not built just so. can become tiresome enough to force a reader into a fair amount of skipping. If the cattle drive ended with more or fewer cattle than Facey reports. People bound together as more than a collection of individuals leave clues to their identity liberally strewn among the activities and artifacts of their popular culture. with other elements of folk life in the period covered. Facey has been chastised for including stories neither true nor original. The hardships of a wounded soldier after the war.thatched with the spear-like leaves of the blackboy tree. not much older when they moved from it. Facts in this kind of narrative do not matter so much as the truths revealed about the interests and habits." Facey is an oral storyteller. however. ." he says. but he is too old to stand up and give her his seat. Such a profusion of details. he told me that the cattle delivered to us on the drive . To confuse truth with literal accuracy is to miss much of the considerable interest of A Fortunate Life. and at the end remembers the numbers of cattle. it was probably not far from what is described. He participates in a long cattle drive. and if the words were not precisely as he gives them. it is out now. to the surprise of us all. Facey tells a story from his days as a streetcar conductor." Everything Facey sees. "I'm not as old as I thought I was. the attitudes." Arthur said. one who knows that if they are not true they are still entertaining. In a similar instance. superstitions. He describes procedures for clearing the bush²ring-barking to kill the large trees. . His account of training for World War I and of the misadventure of Gallipoli conveys well the tangled emotions of diggers embroiled in a war for pommy objectives. of hanging their skins to cure high in a tree so the dingoes can't get them. lady. and other activities of the settler. He was fifteen at the end of the cattle drive. and of an ordinary bloke attempting to survive in the changing conditions of the 1920s and 30s are similarly portrayed. She is loaded with parcels. and six inches thick at one end and about three to four inches thick at the other. and beliefs that define a community. and the words of the man who reports the discrepancy: . "on the tally we have two thousand four hundred and ninety-one. Finally. a naive recounter of stories that ought to be true. my mate gave a puff and out went the candle. of the man who blows out a candle kept burning for "over one thousand years" by the entrance to an Egyptian tomb. He describes how a good kangaroo dog will save the meat for his master. both fifty feet long. "You take the seat. . ploughing." We should need no pedant armed with another source to tell us that story has the ring of folklore. . and has trouble with her balance in the swaying car.' he said. amounted to two thousand four hundred and sixty-one. A memory that can reconstruct dimensions. In each case his account is rich with specifics. Facey was five when he saw his aunt's first house. So. the discrepancy in the accounts. . the practices of work and play. A skeptical reader might question the accuracy of the facts. 'There. Never mind. often presented without sense of proportion or importance. and conversation with such precision nearly three-quarters of a century later is certainly prodigious. every job he takes. He witnesses an old man on a crowded streetcar tell a pretty young lady that he is sorry." The trenches for the main walls are "three feet deep and twelve feet apart. too. burning off to destroy the smaller ones²for fence-building. so we have a surplus of thirty-eight head. for example. "But. The poles are "about twelve feet long. and twenty two of them are clean skins (unbranded). so that the light remains eternal: "With that. tallies. He tells. he taps her on the shoulder and asks her to get up. is remembered in similar fullness of detail by a historian who wants the facts recorded rightly. After a few more blocks of bumps and turns. the general impression seems right enough. Facey tells us about snaring possums to sell their skins for a shilling apiece. he offers to take her on his lap. saying that considering his age it will be quite proper for her to sit there. as the innocent abroad undercuts the pretensions of the foreigner with a joke.
Oscar Fristrom's painting "Last of the South Australian Blacks" makes the point explicit in its title. scarcely two generations after the arrival of the first convict ship. Alison's university course on Australian Aborigines fed her interesting bits of history like the longstanding governmental policies that treated Aborigines as uneducable into the 1930s and only slowly began to provide schooling as the country recovered from the trauma of the Second World War.000 to 1. I would walk thirty miles to see a stuffed one. Occasionally a face looks to the side.Aborigines We were not long in Australia before we began to notice an absence of Aborigines. on the university campus. and below that on a chain around his neck a metallic half moon is insribed "King Sandy / Moreton Bay.000. But where were these people? We thought it remarkable that our accumulating image of Australia. drunkenness." Elegiac verse like Henry Kendall's "The Last of His Tribe" envisioned a happier hereafter. that was not clear from his appearance. for their disappearance was already assumed. Dark skins are illuminated by a light that glances from the side or above and throws deep shadows over the eyes to enhance the grim sadness of the downturned mouths. but we saw nothing like that off screen. A century before us. Short noses cave in below the brows and turn round and bulbous above the slightly out-thrust upper lips. mustache." Darkness pervades many of these pictures. In the Sydney airport I thought I recognized Ernie Dingo. but wasn't sure. now. and beard²flowing together in an aged whiteness that lights up the middle of the picture. Later. . The tall black man standing in the checkout line in front of me one day at the Junction supermarket highlighted this phenomenon. Nobody knows how many Aborigines there once were. Australia was never lush. Mark Twain found rueful humor in the absence of Australia's first people. In Following the Equator he reported what he heard and read of them and added: For a quarter of a century. We saw no people clearly Aboriginal on the streets of Newcastle. Estimates of the population at the time of European settlement range from 300. If the subjects are not stuffed. or virtually anywhere in our drives within New South Wales from Sydney to the Queensland border and over the mountains to the New England tablelands. and violence in Sydney and elsewhere. generally covered in the men with wavy beards. they display protuberant brows knotted above deep-set. they are the next thing to it. the actor. Often such portraits are of heads only. and sometimes it confronts the painter head-on. Stuffed or in comfortable stations. for his facial features and general bearing proclaimed "American basketball player" even before he paid for the professional basketball magazine he picked up from the rack. Top hair is wavy or curly (not wooly). wide-brimmed felt hat. lusterless eyes. If I had found this out while I was in Australia I could have seen some of these people²but I didn't. The "stray blackfellow" who stacks wood for a plug of tobacco in Lawson's "The Drover's Wife" is "the last of his tribe and a King. we discussed job opportunities in Australia with an American black woman whose son had emigrated there to make his way in the fashion industry. By mid-nineteenth-century. Taken in profile. Native people survived without thriving. and fed them well and taken good care of them in every way. Fristrom's portrait of a man called King Sandy shows him facing the portraitist. Aborigines would have provided but a melancholy sight in the 1890s." Similar notes of sentimentality are struck in photographs taken at the end of the century and paintings by Tom Roberts (who also memorialized the bushrangers). apart from the books we were reading. Benjamin Minns's series "Types of New South Wales Aboriginals" reeks of the museum in title and manner. on the flight home. If the man in charge of the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre in South Tweed Heads carried Aboriginal blood in his veins. his facial hair²sideburns. his head covered with a battered. should lack that central figure. the several colonial governments have housed their remnants in comfortable stations. where death would facilitate union with "the rest of his race" and with a "honey-voiced woman" who now only "gleams like a dream in his face.400. in half-profile. Television sometimes featured accounts of Aboriginal poverty. Lower lips fall back toward receding chins.
Long before the coming of Europeans to Pacific waters. a sea cucumber valued by the Chinese. others had a sort of Lances.000 years later they constituted a people in most ways akin to the modern Aborigine.the coming extinction of the natives was already widely assumed. By the seventeenth century. or Ayer's Rock. Beginning in 1606 with William Jansz. newer stone tools arrived some 4. They had survived the island continent's harsh conditions for 35. . . . Once established in Australia. Malaccan traders from Malaysia found their way to Australia's north coast in search of trepang. however. an Englishman. William Dampier.000 years ago. I know not: but they do live in Companies.000 years when Upper Paleolithic human hands painted bisons on the cave walls at Lascaux. but possibilities for Australian cultural enrichment and diversification were severely diminished 8. shaped somewhat like a Cutlass. By then they had settled the continent's perimeter and portions of the interior and made their way by land bridge to Tasmania. and the Heaven their Canopy. and hardened afterwards by heat . They did at first endeavor with their Weapons to frighten us. the Northern Territory. and tools. prospered. But the Aboriginal ways didn't change. Whether they cohabit one Man to one Woman. and painters." he reported in A New Voyage Round the World (1697). Despite the nineteenth-century's grim predictions. Twain's observation not much more than another generation later corroborated the message of social planners. when geologic shifts cut the continent off from New Guinea." Apart from their "humane shape. If Polynesians visited by boat after that time. .000 given as the low estimate for the population of two hundred years ago. and Children together. 20. . They have no Houses. who constantly attend there. or promiscuously. if they have any that will interfere with their poor Fishery. wrote the first extended description of the Aborigines. Mixed blood or not. without any covering. They or their ancestors had inhabited the Australian continent for 24. we saw very few in New South Wales and the airline pilots' strike prevented visits to Queensland. Finding no gold. Their only food is a small sort of Fish. and there leaving them for the prey to these people.000 years or more when the Great Pyramid at Gizeh was erected. which became a separate island. civilizations of the Far East grew. the number may rise as high as the 300. the Earth being their Bed. writers. religions. .000 a century after Twain. across little Coves. sharp at one end. they left no records and had little or no effect on Australian culture.000 years ago. . they remained largely isolated from the rest of the world until barely 300 years ago. If their mixed blood descendants are counted.000 years ago. and circled as far south as Tasmania. These poor Creatures have a sort of Weapon to defend their Weir. Women. or fight with their Enemies. The earliest inhabitants of Australia migrated from Southeast Asia at least 40. For many millenniums nobody confronted Australian Aborigines with evidence of an outside world or showed them human ways different from their own. photographers. an easy sail. Some of them had wooden Swords. Somehow. The Sword is a piece of Wood. Dutch explorers began to fill in the vast. and traded goods." After visiting the west coast of New Holland in 1688. Most of the rest of the world slowly abandoned the stone age. which they named Van Dieman's Land. blank spaces on their maps as they searched for fabled islands of gold supposed to lie somewhere southeast of Java. they famously concluded of this new continent that "there was no good to be done there. Aborigines have not disappeared and by some counts they may number 70. . By 1644 they had charted much of the north and west coast of the land they called New Holland. who lying ashore deterr'd them from one of their Fishing-places. but lye in the open Air. . which they get by making Weirs of stone. but none penetrated beyond the barriers of Indonesia and New Guinea to cross the Torres Strait. to search for them at low water . ³they differ but little from brutes. or branches of the Sea: every Tide bringing in the small Fish. ideas. The Lance is a long strait pole. . "the miserablest people in the world. 20 or 30 Men.
Two Aborigines who brandished spears and throwing sticks were driven off by musket fire. that early settlers found so attractive²in the Hunter Valley. . seeing our Boat coming. and social organizations of the English. By his accounting it was not "the barren and Miserable Country that Dampier and others have described the Western Side to be. but in reality they are far more happier than we Europeans. who had only to drive away the kangaroos and set their sheep and cows to pasture. English settlers ring-barked trees to enlarge the open. for many to whom we gave Cloth &ca to. named the country New South Wales and claimed it for George III. We searched afterwards 3 days in hopes to find their Houses. heading for Van Dieman's land but driven slightly northward. large ones for farming and hunting. They live in a Tranquillity which is not disturb'd by the Inequality of Condition: The Earth and Sea of their own accord furnishes them with all things necessary for life. whose way of life depended upon possession and subjugation of the land rather than a seasonal and migratory accommodation to its changes. whose way of life kept them in harmony with nature for thousands of years. for we were in hopes to get some Provision among them. . Cook sailed all the way up the east coast.We anchored . they covet not Magnificient Houses . They burned off in the dry season to encourage new grasses. But the Inhabitants. uncluttered by undergrowth. homes. For their part. . and seeing Men walking on the shore. 1770. we presently sent a Canoe to get some acquaintance with them. . on April 19. At last. succulent roots. in such places where we thought that they would come. New South Wales had proved hospitable to the Aborigines. near Sydney. but they mostly kept their distance. lizards. The eastern shore of Australia remained unknown for nearly another century. The English worked harder to replicate the material comforts and social distinctions of home than they did to evolve lives of Edenic simplicity suggested by Cook's vision of a "far more happier" people. for Cook's account was tinged with his century's romantic primitivism and the people he encountered might have stood as models for Rousseau's Noble Savage: From what I have seen of the Natives of New Holland. so that they have very little need of Clothing and this they seem to be very sensible of.000 miles from the western borders of New Holland. But despite initial hardships it also proved hospitable to the English. run away and hid themselves. Cook came to Botany Bay. 2. being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous but the necessary Conveniences so much sought after in Europe. park-like spaces created by the fires and erected fences to keep cattle in and Aborigines out. . The two cultures found no common ground. but found none: yet we saw many places where they had made Fires. being out of hopes to find their Habitations. This was unknown land. The open forests. . No European had any idea how far inland from the north and west coasts the land stretched until. Natives threw spears and stones. they are happy in not knowing the use of them. Few attempts were made at accommodation. and fired the countryside to expose the eggs of ground-nesting birds and to drive kangaroos. Coasting to the north. where on April 29 his men first stepped ashore. White men employed black men for guides in their . sighted land near what is now the southern border of New South Wales. we searched no farther: but left a great many toys ashore. After a week there. and bandicoots toward their spears and boomerangs. Captain James Cook. Eighteen years later the first convicts and keepers unfurled with their flag at Sydney Cove the specter of defeat for the Aborigines. the natives proved less than eager to discard old ways in favor of the clothing. they may appear to some to be the most wretched people upon Earth. and grubs. . work habits. as empty on the world's maps as the interior of the continent. for example²were the creations of Aboriginal as well as natural fires. they live in a warm and fine Climate and enjoy a very wholesome Air. they screamed and gesticulated. Through these practices they prepared ready-made bush paddocks for early whites. Aborigines set small fires for warmth. left it carelessly upon the Sea beach and in the woods as a thing they had no manner of use for ." Nor were the natives as miserable as Dampier suggested.
swamps. expressed it. their flaking of stone implements. Sometimes such fires were not merely careless. and deserts not much favored by whites except for the cities of Darwin and Alice Springs. with more than a few in ramshackle. In 1971. Port Macquarie. a custom for which they seem always happy to indulge themselves. Because most immigrant Australians settled along the coastline of New South Wales (and Victoria when it became a separate state). some remained largely out of touch with Europeans into the middle of our own century. but it became quite another when a fire flashed out of control across sheep or cattle paddocks and toward the stringy-bark home of an English settler. Alice Springs counts 4. their oyster and shellfish gathering. however. . This was why Twain saw no Aborigines and why in the opinion of the late nineteenth century they were a race doomed to distinction. Leading an early exploratory party toward Broken Bay. was seventy-five years ago a small fishing village at the mouth of the Hastings River. Aborigines continued their separate culture on lands that continually shrank from the fringes of English settlements. temporary shelters. often defined as the place just beyond the farthest settler. just as they had always used them to subdue their environment. most evidence of Aboriginal presence dates from the past. So did the population of the near bush on the other side of the mountains after white settlers made their way across the barrier to the high plains. It was a harmonious dual existence except when proximity produced friction.exploration of the mysterious interior and later used them as trackers for the police." Distinctive groups of Aborigines in New South Wales a generation later probably lived much like those described by Ross Terrill when writing of his childhood in a small town just over the border in Victoria: . for it was one thing to fire the grass in an annual drive aimed at wallabies and lizards.000. Elsewhere in the Northern Territory. and in Arnhem Land. The Outback. most of the relatively thick Aboriginal population there rapidly disappeared. might just as well have been defined as the place most recently left to the original inhabitants. the history of their race. In New South Wales. but mostly in areas lightly touched by whites. a milestone case brought before the courts a question of ownership concerning tracts in Arnhem Land. when a referendum granted them citizenship and voting rights. But even then they had to remake a bygone time. . nearly a thousand miles apart. Aborigines used fires to subdue the whites. This is largely a tropical area of jungles. "I was fortunate for some of the old men were most intelligent and they recognised that their race was run . and as Thomas Dick. A suit filed on behalf of the native inhabitants was lost when the Northern Territory Supreme Court ruled that Aborigines "have a more cogent feeling in obligation to the land than of ownership of it. now a pleasant resort town 140 miles north of Newcastle. "for fear the natives should surprise us in the night by doing the same. the photographer. for example. Aboriginal fires proved especially troublesome. leased by the government to a mining company. Governor Phillip reported ordering his men to burn the grass around their campsites. There were still Aborigines there who posed for a local photographer's pictorical record of their fishing from stringy-bark canoes. which provided a legal foundation for Aboriginal ownership and established procedures for transferring titles of certain Crown lands to native inhabitants. was the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1976." Later parties continued the practice or camped in areas already burned. but in a common Australian pattern most of these live in permanent camps outside the town. but found them generally unsuitable for the day-to-day work of station hands and took few steps toward educating or civilizing them. Aborigines constituted over 20% of the population of the Northern Territory. in the Northern Territory." One result of that decision. Aborigines held no political or economic power until 1967. They were still present. . tribal groups live largely apart from white society. Near the center of Australia. In 1989. to the east of Darwin." and "it seems easier on the evidence to say that the clan belongs to the land than that the land belongs to the clan. .000 Aborigines in its population of 24. as the Aborigines continued to set fires both to discourage incursions into their territory and to support attacks by their warriors. Native claims to the land were treated as invisible throughout most of Australian history. so they gave me .
" Even in our earliest days of tourist naiveté. The small one we discovered for sale in a gallery in the wine area of the Lower Hunter we judged uninteresting. a supplement inserted into the Weekend Austalian. We heard of slums in Sydney. Once or twice a year Bruthen people packed the Mechanics Institute Hall to hear the Aborigines of the Lake Tyers Gum Leaf Band give a concert." the last living Aborigine free-roaming in the western desert. Governor Phillip's men fired the grass around their campsite so the Aborigines couldn't burn them out. undistinguished. we found the Aboriginal record remarkably thin. and overpriced. Many are pecked in rock. in curio and antique shops. it was reported. by the competing demands of our other interests. fully and gaudily dressed for the occasion. Spears. He was a member of the Pintubi people. Born and raised in ignorance of civilization. Rock paintings or carvings last. his family continued to "experience visions of his adventures" and were satisfied that all was well. Peirtiia had met the twentieth century as found in the Australian Outback and had chosen to reject it.000 figures have been found. The same paper anounced Tom Selleck's arrival in Australia. and shields were needed for hunting and warfare. Peirtiia himself had not been seen for several years and expeditions sent in search of him had failed to find his tracks. rich in rock carvings and cave paintings. Making music by blowing through partly torn eucalyptus leaves to the beat of a wallaby-skin drum. of the "Search for the Last Nomad. but there was seldom anything of comparable interest from Australia. clubs. Still. the river praised for its beauty by Trollope and Twain. Art painted on human flesh or traced in sand is by nature ephemeral. we didn't hear of it. brother.The black people around Bruthen were not part of our lives--to us they were more akin to the emus and gums than to the white people . We shouldn't have been surprised. Boomerangs. artifacts we could view. but other possessions were a hindrance to a nomadic life. Bark paintings were rare. It served the purposes of daily living or the ritual demands of totemic identity. spearing wallabies. nor did we hear of anything similar. Perhaps the Aborigines had special reason to be defensive. more often painted toys than serviceable instruments. At Broken Bay. most Aboriginal art was utilitarian. He had come to film ¯Quigley Down Under. Ku-ring-gai National Park. surrounds Broken Bay at the entrance to the Hawkesbury River. seldom gave evidence of manufacture anywhere near an Aborigine. This is the river today's drivers sweep over so quickly on the soaring bridge on the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Newcastle. or entertaining whites with gum-leaf concerts. One Saturday we read in The Australian Magazine. Imitation bark paintings in a gallery near Tweed Heads were done on composition board with acrylic. but not of any reason to visit them. but you have to go to them. we did not expect to find Aborigines in New South Wales gathering grubs. What we wanted was to touch some evidence of their long presence on the land. Surely there were sites we could visit. an Aboriginal station located over 400 miles west of Alice Springs. these jet-black visitors from the nearby Aboriginal reserve. and by the range of our Holden Gemini. . That . In the sandstone surrounding the Hawkesbury. What seemed remarkable was how little contemporary Australians seem to care about them. using his six-foot-tall. Didgeridoos (hollow musical sticks) and bulloarers were similarly unimpressive. others remained behind to continue their nomadic life. and sister were living in Kiwirrkuru. Traditionally. in which he would play an American come to Australia in the 1860s "to rid the range of Aborigines. would pierce the night with a mixed program of British and Aboriginal songs. . When some of his people came out of the desert in the 1960s and settled in Kiwirrkuru. In museums and galleries. more than 4. Their ranks thinned gradually and by 1989 Peirtiia's mother. If the Lake Tyers Gum Leaf Band continues to exist. . Half a century hadlapsed since Terrill's youth. Primitive art from New Guinea was displayed almost everywhere. For our part we were limited by time. custom-made Sharps rifle. And such things do exist. boomerangs.
Other pictures show more stylized men or animals or their tracks. which are so old they belong to the "Dreamtime. An aged and blind wombat was tolerated as a sort of family pet. three feet by four feet in width and length. and then panic and tear down the fence as it escaped. Our trek into the bush one Saturday to see the birthing stone was prevented by heavy rains that turned the dirt road to mud. Spearsharpening places can be identified by the grooves left in stones still in place. Slow-moving and not particularly vicious. trample the vegetables. Springs well out of the hillsides and streams run through the valleys. In this area. It would get into the garden. and running streams that give the area its particular beauty and life-sustaining properties. its former black turned to grey. the sky father to the people who lived here. a slightly worrisome nuisance. Cliff had a photograph of a rare sculpture which we understood he had taken on his property or near it: the head of a lizard jutting out from a larger stone. the dark night sky was held so precious that a slightly mad neighbor threatened to shoot out the skylight from the home of one of our colleagues. A woman about to give birth would spread her legs so that the baby would be born into the bowl of water. and a totemic connection to the land. Not more than 7 or 8 would be capable of puzzling the rest with their knowledge of white men and the changes wrought by them--and those might prefer to keep a stoic silence. large as a hog. his son or brother. with no interior designs. Blackberries grew on Cliff's property. wellsprings. riddled with caves and overhanging boulders that would serve as ready-made shelters for primitive people. Twenty thousand years sounds like a long time for a culture to endure. Gathered at a corroboree on the sandstone depicting the whale swallowing the man at Kuring-ring-gai. Doubtless the stone had resembled a lizard in its untouched natural condition. Cliff's four-wheel-drive vehicle went off the road and had to be winched out of the ditch and back into service. A whale about to swallow a man is over 60 meters long. They seemed as invisible in fiction as in the life of contemporary New South Wales. It was in place on his property. it made Cliff and his wife nervous by hissing at the children and betraying a senile stubbornness when they tried to shoo it away. For those who can feel it. another of our colleagues lived two miles back from the road in a large tract of untamed bush. it had lost its nocturnal habits because it could no longer distinguish night from day. it tilted so that grooves would carry water to a bowl-like hollow. he was unable to imagine its purpose until someone else explained it to him. It is said that contemporary Aborigines cannot interpret some of these pecked petroglyphs. are eighteen meters high. Wollombi's hills are stony and rugged. These are incised. but the resemblance he had photographed was so strong he was certain humans had chipped and ground it to its present state. The haunting by material and immaterial relics in this area is so strong that when he brought an Aboriginal friend there the man succumbed to the weight of the past and sat down and wept. Aborigines were few in the literature we read in Australia. we would have fewer than 700 people. Grinding holes abound in the rocks. Even more interesting was his birthing stone.is. They . deep valleys. When they appeared. The water would ease the birth and help in the cleaning up in a process partly ritual and partly obstetric. Wollombi was for us one of those places. Baiame. Spring had come to New South Wales. but none dared pick them for fear of snakes. without figural reference. In Wollombi. and Daramulen. representational outlines. craggy cliffs. Some seem to be abstract or geometric designs. that long Aboriginal presence in New South Wales emanates with special force from places where white incursions have been minimal. Grizzled. they would share a rich stock of homogenous experiences. they stood at the fringes of attention. he said. the makers created them by painstakingly pecking a series of holes with a pointed stone or shell instead of using the more crude method of pounding with a blunt stone." when the giant race that lived before humans created the natural features of the landscape--the round hills. Nearly flat. Yet if we could bring from the spirit world one person from each generation of that time. Puzzled when he found it.
From his initiation into tribal manhood he learns "the truth of Emu-Wren. hearth. concerns for society. revolted by the Senior Constable's sodomizing and hanging the man in his cell. He has been cheated out of full payment for a fencing job. and ill-starred quarry: "Their inheritance²combined²was not in thousand of acres but in hundreds of thousands. he remains frustrated in his further ambitions of "home. Other men had accidental. Some of Jimmie's pursuers are handsomely landed men who stand in sharp contrast to their landless. Under the circumstances. examining issues of mixed blood and racial discrimination in New South Wales at the turn of the century as seen in the story of Jimmie. their story was told almost entirely by whites who rarely made an effort to see from Aboriginal eyes or feel with Aboriginal sensibilities. After his marriage and the birth of the baby. Born after "a visit some white man had made to Brentwood blacks' camp in 1878. their extinction seemed certain. Nothing better." From the Methodists he acquires white man's ambitions. Keneally immerses his tale in omens. Jimmie has acquired doubts about the values of white Australia. random life. when two centuries stand posed in equilibrium. history left the natives behind even as it adopted some of their vocabulary. threats to settlers. the Warrigal of Robbery Under Arms assumes added interest as a representative of an element of society²in this case an outlaw society²largely forgotten as Australia marched toward its future. Tribal elders who cared for initiation teeth and knew where the soul-stones of each man were hidden and how the stones could be distinguished. What did Tullam and Mungara stand for now? Tribal men were beggars puking Hunter River rotgut sherry in the lee of hotel shit-houses. just as the Mungara marry Garri. The rest of the book. As a Tullan member of the Mungindi tribe. and his brother are pursued and brought to justice.constituted impediments to progress. But Jimmie can see that times have changed. he has helped bring in a murderer and then. Accepting the baby in spite of its color. Without much difficulty. and feed their appetite for adventure in a climate where they might just as well have found all those things by volunteering for service in South Africa. his uncle. and child. In the generation between the two. is the question of what it means to be Australian²and what it means to be human." By the time of his marriage. follows the consequences of that act. The murders occur in 1900. while in the second." Jimmie acquires an education as divided as his parentage. wife. exhibit their patriotism. homeless. limited by the conventions of popular fiction. he is cruelly manipulated by whites and threatened with the loss of his job. has burned his uniform with the hanged man's clothes and left the service. it seems emblematic that in the first. half "blackfella" and half white. Until the 1960s. set in the 1850s. Such is Life. Among depictions by whites." Flapping in the air of that tropic spring. Arthur Upfield's mixed-race detective is an exception. lent out their wives to white men for a suck from a brandy bottle. where the Boer War is extending British Colonialism. Robbery Under Arms. Warrigal is a half-breed. set in the 1880s. Representatives of the Australian colonies are meeting in discussions of Federation that as the year turns to 1901 will produce the Commonwealth of Australia. Garri marry Wibbera." Such ambitions violate customs of centuries. including the idea of marriage to a white woman: "If you ever find a nice girl off a farm to marry. Employed as a tracker by the police. your children would only be quarter-caste then. Jimmie achieves his marriage to a white woman. land" that he sustains through his conviction that "Those who possessed these had beatitude unchallengeable. like ill-washed laundry on a line. Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith stands as a remarkable tour de force. By the turn of the century. as Jimmie. Driven to madness and aided by his uncle. which is slightly more than half. . and Wibbera wed Tullam. scarcely black at all. he attacks the women in the family of his employer. wife. and your grandchildren one-eighth caste. Warrigal is white." and from his tutoring at a Methodist mission station he learns of "the poor-bugger-white-fella-son-of-God-got-nailed. he should marry a Mungara. White Australians pursuing him have chosen to test their manhood. Of two characters with the Aboriginal name "Warrigal" (a dingo) in major early Australian novels. cutting them to pieces with an axe. but in one of many indignities inflicted on him in his struggle with the white world the pregnancy that brings her to him produces a baby clearly not his. Jimmie flees in a portentous springtime near year's end.
Convicted in mid-summer. white Australian writers who in the late 1930s advocated an Australian literature infused with the country's indigenous landscape and traditions. waiting for their sentence of hanging to be carried out. in Western Australia. . however. but she "nicks off" when friends come. "You couldn't hang blacks on such an occasion. of changed and changing ways and attitudes. Aborigines have only recently found voices to tell their own stories. Three generations take a reader back to the time of Jimmie Blacksmith and to the other side of the continent from New South Wales." Jimmie and his uncle languish in jail throughout the rest of a celebratory summer and fall until after Easter." The effectiveness of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith derives partly from its mixed perspectives.Near the end of the novel. As both an autobiography and a documentary account of a search for origins. snakes or goannas. often drunk or violent or in hospital. the minister who chiefly influenced the younger Jimmie writes a letter to The Methodist Church Times: It was I who. and there was no mention of wild birds. All they ever did was visit the toy shop and play ball with Nip. When Sallie's mother takes the girls to visit their paternal grandparents. all convict chains a rusted fable. lacking any definite instructions on how to proceed in the management of a mission station." a "grubby offender. teaching the children about wild life and boiling the family wash in a copper kettle. near Perth. Sally is a "dirty girl. As inexcusable as Blacksmith's crimes are. Since their education was rare before the 1940s and chancy after that. None of them lived near a swamp. And the question then arises. the rape of the primitives?²it was done and past report. I felt sorry for them. The Jindyworobaks. especially in the matter of his marriage to a white girl. Her Dad." At her hated school." People are too busy hailing widespread promises of extended freedoms and equalities in a new country in a new century. it had already gone through ten or a dozen printings. it illuminates nearly a hundred years of history. there was almost certainly some white provocation of the young half-caste. Sally Morgan's My Place is especially interesting. his story vibrates with concerns of late twentieth-century Australia. So that one wonders if society is yet ready to accept the ambitious aborigine. what should we. And the other viciousness. the ambition of owning property. by 1989. Although Jimmie's is the dominant note. and he dies when the children are young. has never recovered from his World War II experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war of the Germans. "People laughed in their state of grace. For many pages the book tells nothing directly of Aborigines. seem to have accomplished little beyond a few jingly poems. heavy with Aboriginal words. encouraged particular ambitions in Jimmie Blacksmith²the ambition to work and complete work. and had achieved a critical as well as a popular success. Its paragraphs are surrounded by retrospective overtones as Keneally plucks the strings of national guilt to accompany the songlines of his plausible "chant. Mum works part-time as a cleaning lady." The effort is reminiscent of the goals of the Jindyworobaks. . two years after publication. they are shunted into the backyard: "Our cousins were allowed inside. Among these." She learns to read from a book about children with lives wholly different from her own: ³In a way. but focuses on a girl who grew up poor in Manning. do in regard to our black and brindled flock? The Church Times does not print the letter. but we had to stay outside. as pastors. the old crimes done. just as "Australia became a fact. Grandmother Nan hovers protectively around. the ambition of marrying a white woman. Widely celebrated in Australia.´ . .
As an immediate result of Sally's new knowledge. Among them. not knowin' they black underneath. I'm black. Aborigines have recently been granted citizenship and the right to vote. an uncle. You don't know what it means that you. she confronts her mother. Arthur Corunna. he begins his story on Corunna Downs Station and ends it after World War II. with light skin. her grandmother tells as much of her story as she is willing to have others know.¶ she replied without thinking. They make clear that Aborigines. She has secrets. finally overcoming her great reluctance. dear. Mum?¶ Yes. married and a university student. Told by other children that she and her sister can't be Aussies." Her more perceptive sister Jill enlightens her: "You know what we are. speaks first. The rest of the book concerns Sally Morgan's efforts over the next decade to find her ancestors and to get her mother and her grandmother to tell their stories. At fifteen she finds her grandmother crying because "You bloody kids don't want me." Says another. Taken together these stories comprise over a third of the book and provide considerable insight into portions of Australian history difficult to document elsewhere from the Aboriginal perspective. They tell explicitly of sexual intermingling. or mostly succeeds. Australia has decided to change its "whites only" past into a multicultural future. but many live on the nearby government reserve and in the town of Port Hedland. Buoyed by his example. There is an affecting account of her journey north to Corunna Downs Station." For some of the most interesting sections of My Place." many are her relatives or have been personally acquainted with her ancestors. providing much insight into the life of an independent black in the same period covered by the white A. There are no Aborigines on the station now. It is the 1970s. often considered useless for work in New South Wales. Born about 1893 and now ninety years old. you want a bloody white grandmother. Do you hear. People like you wanderin' around. Good on you for comin' back. aren't we. or Indian. It was "a little white lie. Then her mother finally lets down her guard: "¶We're Aboriginal. Facey's A Fortunate Life. of . Light coloured ones wanderin' around. what?" "Boongs. the mother explains "it's different now. Sally's mother speaks next. no one comes back. performed major tasks at Corunna Downs Station and presumably elsewhere in the west. Policies of protection and segregation of the Aborigines have been replaced by policies of voluntary integration. figuring by "the blackfella's way. "I saw pictures about you lot on TV. of family structures that were elaborately different depending on whether they were construed in the white or the black way." says one." Although she does not elaborate. "'You don't know what it means. where her people once lived and worked." In excuse for all the years of silence." the mother says. Morgan persuades her relatives to talk into tape recorders. don't you?" "No. and then. "It was real sad. black. and keeps them. she formally declares her ancestry and applies for and receives an Aboriginal scholarship to support her studies. but what does shock is the evidence that the children have been lied to all their lives. In the end she succeeds.She has no inkling of her Aboriginal heritage. black. of children removed from their homes who never returned. All are sympathetic.´ This is over a third of the way through the book." which is not "the white man's way. black!" And still she doesn't understand that black doesn't mean "some Indian tribe we don't know about. Greek. who replies "Tell them you're Indian" and refuses to say more. neither mother nor grandmother will answer questions. we're Boongs!" Still. The revelation cannot shock. want to own us. Confusion continues until Sally is twentyone. the difference is substantial. B. with what her daughter characterizes as "unintentional humor. not knowin' where you come from. but must be Italian.
we didn't associate roses especially with Australia. The tourist industry thrives on fishing and boating. we spotted no certain koalas. and of passes required for their free movement about the countryside. and Phil . The only livestock we saw were two sorry-looking horses. Into it the Myall River flows from a chain of lakes that together form the largest body of fresh water in New South Wales. the countryside is more sparsely settled. A side road from Port Stevens leads to Bobs Farm.500 people." adding: How deprived we would have been if we had been willing to let things stay as they were. We would never have known our place. and sparse canopies. for the Koalas of New South Wales are as concentrated in this area as in any portion of their remaining habitat. We decided against Australian gems sold in the living room of the "Gem House. Ten kilometers from city's edge we came to a yellow roadside warning sign. North to Byron Bay The winter chills of July and August left us with northward longings. this is no tourist gesture. only a single clump of something high in a tree crotch that teased with possibility. badly in need of good feed and careful currying. with negligible undergrowth. but since the opening of the Pacific Highway from Sydney and the Stockton Bridge over the Hunter at Newcastle the population has multiplied ten times. few lower branches. It was still off-season. a place that doesn't seem to exist except for the Rose Farm located there. A generation ago this then rural area held 2. and the season's uncrowded ocean beaches turn more quickly toward the temperatures of spring and summer. Nelson Bay is one of several towns bordering Port Stephens. a many-branched sea inlet larger than Sydney Harbor. left the woods nicely open to view. There are fine beaches where we came to swim when the weather warmed. Like "Kangaroo Crossing" signs in the Hunter Valley.curfews that kept blacks in at night. These words stretch easily beyond the Corunnas and Morgans to cover the larger family of the people of Australia and of the world. Northward from Newcastle the sun is warmer." This was on a narrow country road through farmlands and eucalyptus forests on the way to Nelson Bay. standing forlornly in a hardscrabble paddock. In them it becomes clear that the Aboriginal presence so long minimalized in New South Wales has remained far from minimal elsewhere in Australia. As often in New South Wales. But although the parklike growth of the eucalyptus trees. but at the home advertising the rides we found nobody home and no camels in sight. a visitor wavers between joy in the face of abundant natural beauty and regret that it was not seen earlier. but not as a whole people." but bought a paperweight in the form of a pewter echidna mounted on stone. we found this a good place to stop for Devonshire tea and rose petal jam. Before our visit. We would have survived. with the longest stretching 16 kilometers. Morgan dedicated her book "To My Family. Alison and Suzanne investigated camel rides over the dunes to the sea. "Koalas Next 5 kms. On several trips to Port Stevens. Manmade attractions are more marginal.
There was some pacing to and fro and muttering. I asked the attendant about our faulty turn signal. Posted speed limits of 100 or 110 kilometers per hour were generally ignored. Computers also control temperature.000 buds are produced each year in a glass house that never sees a blossom. We thanked them profusely. more experienced man. At the end of August. and inspected under the hood for components they might have missed. 5. checked connections. For all this. of course. The weather would be warmer and hotels more comfortable than our poorly-heated Macquarie Street house. visibly puffing from the exertion of peddling a rusty. A comic interlude at our local Mobil station delayed our departure and taught us something about Aussie helpfulness. roses are central. "I told him. Making no hotel reservations. an American driver can get nervous. pack them between layers of newspapers and ship 90% abroad. reverse the connections himself. In a few minutes he returned. with an extra lane added on some of the hills to allow the faster traffic to pass. but we might reach the Gold Coast. which included $8 for the part. Puzzled. which was mostly one lane in each direction. Our main route north was the Pacific Highway. but there are also several acres of polyethylene Quonset huts for annuals and vegetables. one-speed bicycle. with a week free and plans for Townsville cancelled. took one look. Together they checked bulbs front and back. since he was still puffing. At the Rose Farm. "the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Reports of terrible accidents are frequent. and make the unit work. In Newcastle a warm day was still one where the outdoor temperature reached 60 degrees. Lying dormant in newspapers during shipment. From this system." A tractor train tours the grounds. which occupied two men for most of an hour." Said the older man with a bit of asperity. a resort area on the southern border of Queensland. It did. where they go mostly to Holland for further distribution. he contemplated the unit in his hand." Much is automated. . We longed to bask in the sun on a sandy beach and dip our toes in less than frigid water. The Great Barrier Reef was out of the question.000 rose plants grow in sand beds that keep the stems erect and hold tubes to supply nutrients and water in amounts controlled by computers. he pulled out a control unit from under the steering wheel and decided the problem wasn't there. unscrewed casings.000. It was the other unit that was defective. shade. which still functioned. they have a shelf life of nine to eleven days after arrival." he said. they charged $11. "Did you look?" There followed a discussion of the wisdom of sending the younger man back. Almost instantaneously a mechanic appeared. Obviously a novice. humidity. and sun. Workers pick them as buds. Then the older man decided to clip the wires. He could go by car this time. the older man sent the younger one off on a bicycle with instructions to get a unit with "reverse connections" from a local parts store. When he found he had no replacement in stock. In time. When the oncoming traffic consists of huge semi-trailer trucks. "I wanted reverse connections. and said he could fix it in a minute and we shouldn't take the trip until it was done. we decided to drive as far north as we could in search of warmer weather. No worries. 80. This would be an unplanned vacation. then called an older. we would drive until we felt like stopping. While the gas tank was being filled.Bennett's great success with them proved inadequate preparation for the farm advertised here as "The largest commercial rose and flower farm in the Southern Hemisphere. mate. with the result that traffic travelling 130 kph or so (80 miles per hour) met traffic oncoming in the other lane at the same speed and with no median strip separating them. where as late as August 24 we sat down to breakfast at an indoor temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The new glass house covering many of the plants was imported from Holland and is. Unfortunately he had the wrong unit. and take the sights as they came. The important thing was we would be safer on Australian roads with the blinker working. they decided there were two blinker control units and the younger mechanic had made the mistake of checking only the one for the hazard lights.
How badly do you want to get to Seal Rocks? At the last decline. To get there. for there appeared to be no harbor or dock in the town. and the winch would have to be in good order to pull them. The question is an interesting one. the road is again paved. A little further on. many-colored swoops. where it is used to pull fishing boats ashore. but because we could see no public buildings and the road narrowed again to a one-way lane. perhaps for the convenience of the person who has written in large letters with white paint against the black macadam surface. sandwich caravan. It looked as though they might go in and out with the tide. Nothing manmade is in sight. rocks. which may strike you as an interesting trap for the unwary: You come over the hump in the darkness of an Australian night with your headlights pointing skyward and then they drop to disclose a wire rope at about the right height to stop the car and blink them out. This is a working fishing village. past the beach on your left and the caravan park on your right. which was low at the time. at the northern end of Myall Lakes National Park. and psychedelic floral designs stood permanently parked nearby but never open for business. a small. The cable lies flat on the road most of the time. you come over a hump between hills to arrive at a village of small homes with corrugated iron roofs. and it's too late to hit the brakes. swirls. barring passage. The road becomes badly rutted and so narrow that if a car were coming the other way it would be necessary to back up or pull off to the side of the road. incredibly blue in the sunshine and sometimes wind-whipped into sparkling. We visited several times and found the caravan park scarcely inhabited into November's late spring. So it is. Through the cleft between steep island . We ate at the single picnic table and threw crumbs to magpies. All this was visible from the cable area. If you drive down the hill. The fine white sand squeaks underfoot. it is invisible from the beach. In any case. and tearing out the transmission strikes one as a distinct possibility. it would be taut. a steep. in part. white beach was lined at the time of our visit with steel traps or drags somewhat larger than Maine or Cape Cod lobster pots. In use. wavy white lines. sky²it looks like a travel folder illustration of a Pacific lagoon. sea. and towered above the sand ten to fifteen feet to the decks. with pulling off difficult or impossible because of the cliff-like sides. a bone-numbing and spring-shattering drive where in a considerable slow-down after the Pacific Highway 20 or 25 kilometers seems plenty fast enough. Its wide. Easily approached by wading. the road winds past a steep declivity where palm trees rise sixty to a hundred feet above an undergrowth of ferns and vines in a mini rain forest encouraged by sunshine caught against the hillside that rises behind it. The beach stretches in a gentle inward curve for a half mile or more between rocky points. They were of steel. In its descent. for the cable is a formidable presence. sparsely treed. trees. Two large boats sat on the beach. It's attached to a winch on the landward side of the road. A small. This seems a test of will. forty to sixty feet long. Beach. we turned with difficulty and drove back over the hump to the more public portion of Seal Rocks. a sign warns of a moving wire rope across the road. Soon the paved road ends. There follows a stretch of five or ten kilometers of gravel surface. Near the village. crudely painted in blue and overlaid with home-made. steeply-sided.Two hours from Newcastle we discovered Seal Rocks. but my stopping the car over it to contemplate the best way of turning around prompted queries from wife and daughters concerning what I proposed to do if it started to rise. and rocky island lies just offshore. They would have been fair to middling size boats in Provincetown or Gloucester harbor." The NRMA map says it is quaintly reminiscent of an English fishing village. "Seal Rocks The Last Frontier Don't Destroy It!" Tourist brochures omit Seal Rocks or describe it as "a popular fishing village named after an offshore cluster of rocky islets inhabited by seals. On the other side it runs down to the beach. it is necessary to leave the Pacific Highway at Buladelah and follow the road to Forster. the traveler to Seal Rocks leaves the Forster road for a still less-traveled one that is bordered by lush ferns that spread below a canopy of gum trees with an occasional palm competing for earth and sky room. three or four feet above the road surface. winding. upward climb through a heavily wooded area that descends again with views of Myall Lake. The town lay only a little further on. This road seems to provide no lake access and no homes line the shore of a pristine gem in a setting of forest green. it commands from its top a view of the cove with the village and fishing boats and beyond that a lighthouse. On the eastern end.
and we were too mindful of toxic sea creatures to want to pick it up. Behind the beach. Pools near the rocks are full of shells. Brown kelp was attached to it. roundish. under a thick stem of brown seaweed. muscular. another island rises rocky and white further out at sea. and other marine life that changes with the tides. Tongue-like in shape. Carefully turning it with my hand. It lay with obvious substantial mass on the sand. sea urchins. or something else. Lying not far from the water. Another time we found a softball-sized sea urchin lying upside down on the beach where it had been tossed by waves. sandstone. On later visits we never found more than half a dozen others. where it rolled around a while and then disappeared. On our first visit. roots. Not sure of the wisdom of picking it up in bare hands. Against these the northern sun warms the sands. it first presented itself as a curious purple mass. a jelly-like protuberance. On one walk. although this would surely change in summer. Beyond the cleft. I placed a flattened beer can under it and covered it with a piece of kelp in order to carry it to the water. grey. and .and steep shore the surf crashes in white spray sometimes twenty feet into the air. Waves higher than they had been were some of them strong enough to knock us off our feet. Beyond the table rocks another headland protrudes and blue. Because it was partly hidden by the seaweed and I wanted to display it better. It was difficult to tell whether the basic structure was coral. We weren't sure whether it possessed motive power of its own or was simply swept out by the currents. To the west. and shiny. On this day portions of the beach were littered with kelp and other seaweeds. Suzanne and I discovered a creature we couldn't identify. hazy mountains meet the sky. and a foot or so in diameter. On closer inspection the purple looked like a mossy growth covering something more firm underneath. just like a tongue. it extended at least three or four inches from the parent mass and was a good two or three inches wide. I exposed. I touched it with the toe of a sneaker I was carrying in my hand and it pulled itself back. it was much larger than a human tongue and resembled more the tip of a calf's tongue. Human-kind's crushed beer cans and broken glass are rare. Kettle holes at the island's rocky shelving still contain within them the round stones whose long turnings in the tidal currents have given them their shapes. In August we waded without swimming. In October we body-surfed comfortably and by November the water was very warm. Clearly it was alive. but there was no serious undertow. many bright shells unworn by waves and sand lay everywhere in the low places where they had recently dropped. the long dune is backed by rocky cliffs and covered everywhere by earth-clinging shrubs of green and brown that block the landward view. the bay ends in a rocky headland of table rocks that rise at a thirty-degree angle in several layers out over the water. Suffering from sun and dehydration. it still moved its appendages in indication of lingering life. On our first visit we shared all of this with two other people who soon left it entirely to us. wet. Walking the water's edge is a beachcomber's dream. vegetable matter. crabs. Grey and slightly mottled.
the trees continually drop their older leaves on the forest floor as they bring forth the new growth. we checked into a motel with accommodations common in a countryside determined to attract family holiday-goers: a suite that included a living room with double bed. As part of the forest litter. they join the bark and dead branches that the eucalyptus also sheds in profusion. while roadside blackened trunks testified to fires from the past. It was still protruding from whatever held it for an inch or two and there we left it. of a countryside on the way to becoming something else in a timeless cycle of renewal. a kitchen alcove with tea-making facilities and refrigerator. What is left is a tall tree with few lower branches and little competing undergrowth. but could see no eyes. With the air temperature about 70 or 72 degrees Fahrenheit. it would take back in the next tidal swell. the unforested places turn first to orange groves and banana plantations and then to endless fields of sugar cane. We called the others over. and a bathroom with shower. We thought of a giant sea slug. we felt we had already begun to improve on the chill of Newcastle. towns. Again. the leaves of a eucalyptus spread flat in a round or oblong shape. Most curious. still northward bound. By now it had withdrawn to half its original length and there was no telling what more might be in the conglomeration of sea material that held it. many forests have been replaced by vineyards and pasture-lands. pine or spruce needles that North Americans associate with the perpetual green of an evergreen forest. a smaller resort than Port Macquarie. There. we found neither convicts nor the Aborigines photographed earlier in this century by Thomas Dick. round. Never leafless. mouth. In late afternoon of our first visit to Seal Rocks. Whatever the sea had cast up. Across the street from a seashore park and beach. It didn't seem to be the foot of a snail or neck of a clam. Then a fire sweeps through. Cities. The tariff was about $70. When we left. Except from the knoll. Stuck at one point in a traffic tie-up for about an hour because of . but some sponges and plant life we couldn't identify. in the third convict settlement in New South Wales (after Sydney and Newcastle). The tourist areas begin to look tropical. we were entertained by the sight of a young man who immediately ascended our knoll with the clear intention of improving his sight lines. However common nude sunbathing may be in Australia.not nearly as jelly-like as we first thought. Unlike the thin. A eucalyptus forest is a living tinder box. sandy beach at Coff's Harbour. When I touched it again with my sneaker it withdrew still further. and agriculture take space. The whole effect--smoke in the distance and in the foreground smudged trunks that rise from low green undergrowth into thriving forest canopies-conveys a strong sense of transience and continuity. and the eucalyptus thrives on it. Close to Newcastle. Beyond Coff's Harbour. she was mostly protected from sight by the sides of a hole dug against stray breezes and to concentrate the sun's rays. We remained uninformed but lacked the desire to pry it out or try to turn the mass still further around for it was not an inviting object to grasp with bare hands and was too heavy to turn easily. craning his neck in the direction of the woman as he climbed. The cycle continues. The forest's enemy is progress. It blackens the trunk of the eucalyptus without killing it or destroying its higher branches. or other appendages. we decided to continue our northward exploration by driving another couple of hours to Port Macquarie. By noon we found a good. In the morning we found no shells on the beach to rival those from Seal Rocks and left early. a bedroom with twin beds. There were few good shells. and like the leaves of oaks or maples they lie on the ground curled and brown--and very dry in the long rainless periods when there is no moisture to dampen them. Suzanne and Alison drove for some of the rest of the day through eucalyptus forests that lined the two slim lanes of the Pacific Highway. it still seems to attract attention. with palm trees rising beside the motels that line the road at every town and advertise rates as low as $24 a night. It was like a tongue. There was a lot of smoke from distant bush fires that we never saw. and it withdrew a bit more. We shared a picnic lunch on a grassy knoll that commanded a good view of the beach and of a young woman sunbathing nude on the warm sands. as well as the lower growth that is encouraged on the forest floor by periodic rains and turns dead and brown when the rains cease.
and gift and fashion boutiques abounded. a sink. the water was warmer when we got into it. Apparently no part of the American chain. the 'Big Banana' or the 'Giant Prawn' and other examples of tacky. . The tide had retreated. and although waves were few we managed a little body-surfing between periods of sunbathing. snorkeling. In the morning we explored a lawn riddled with holes of sand crabs that ducked out of sight as we approached. Phil and Dorothy Bennett would not have been surprised to hear that the Byron Bay Services Club occupies one of the most handsome buildings on Jonson Street and offers "Monster Raffles" and "Rock Night" on Friday. and a couple of Italian." boasts the Byron Bay Holiday Guide." the Holiday Inn on Lawson Street. surfing. There is a Paterson (Banjo). a Japanese. we didn't investigate. In addition to its undeniably unique photo opportunities. . dancing on Saturday. For Americans. Preferring the trees it had displaced. we slipped through a time warp to an unspoiled paradise called Ozutopia . and Scott Streets. we sat and contemplated the Big Banana. Put it another way. Browning. Carlyle. checks. This. the Big Banana offers food. . a couch. pseudo manmade so-called tourist attractions.road-work ahead. and we booked into "Australia's Most Eastern Motel. refrigerator. suggest Ben. a place that stopped us short with only about an hour of driving time left to our original destination. On the first evening we chose a good Greek restaurant from possibilities that included another Greek. drink. shaded with palm trees. so we followed a public path to the wooden stairway. . cloudless. and "Holiday Entertainment Every Day" for members and guests. Spacious and color-coordinated in stripes. a Cooper. True places never are . was the place we wanted. Wordsworth. . Cool at first. With many of Australia's most beautiful spots rapidly succumbing to commercialization. through the center of town. Not long after our hot and dusty wait in the line of traffic contemplating the Big Banana beside us and huge earth-moving machinery on the road in front of us. During the first night the tide rose with a heavy surf that dashed against the shore a hundred feet from our room. two singles. "Not for Byron Shire. free films on Sunday. The town seemed a place of sun and relaxation designed especially for literary people. Jonson Street. it was bright but not garish. that led to the seashore. Byron Bay was named for the poet's grandfather. Our room on the first floor stood next to a broad lawn. Lawson Street evokes Henry and Louisa. The sky was the usual Australian high. Swimsuit. we came finally to the town of __________. and floral designs. there is a great temptation to remain evasive about Byron Bay. At the beach edge. and possibly educational displays and lodging. In search of the ideal beach. and teamaking facilities. . we wondered about sunburn. Forty or fifty feet from us two light-skinned young women sunbathed topless. souvenirs. . Tennyson. postcards. A small town. There are Burns. bright blue. a table and four chairs. ice cream. Within were a double bed. Clearly we could stay in comfort here for some time. the Gold Coast of Queensland. an Indian. There was no wind and an air temperature of about 72 degrees. A patio just outside our door offered a table and chairs for outside dining and lounges for relaxation. it seemed. the motel evoked in a down under and sub-tropical way the easy pace of an earlier time as memorialized in the New England retreat in the Bing Crosby film. it had most of its restaurants and shops within walking distance of our hotel. Its couple of miles was sparsely populated with sunbathers and there were no more than three or four people in the water at one time. On both sides of us the beach stretched its white sands in a wide and mostly empty curve. a tourist stop widely advertised in New South Wales and impossible to miss because of its bright yellow color and unmistakable banana shape. at least three Chinese. we found the sand cliff the waves had beaten against during the night was too high for easy descent. Like one of Herman Melville's South Sea islands of enchantment it is not down on any map.
On this stretch a wooden stairway leads up to a Beach Cafe that is hidden from below by flowers and trees. and we were both graduates of Burlington High School. The conjunction seemed laden with poignancy. they said. Two totally nude women were lounging against the rocks and on the sands. was building a new three-million dollar home not far away on a hillside site of 270 acres at Possum Shoot. ride escalators. was a native of "the Boston Area. Jonson Street would be lined with customers waiting for spaces at the few tables of The Fondue Inn. A magnificent view opens at the top. Burlington was a very small town just beginning to boom in the postwar period. At the beach. Perhaps they would settle in the United States again. dispenses teas. and the path is very steep. Suzanne. We had come in the off season at the end of August. she and Bill had that morning put up a "For Sale" sign on the door. ten kilometers to the south. The menu announced that Darnell Morris. My graduating class had 29 people. To the north. They rose into a haze that threw a softness over succeeding ranges of a blueness darker than the sky. Below the walker. She would like to be in Burlington for her twentieth high school reunion. a narrow trail leads through the forest over a high ridge to a hidden beach that is inaccessible except by foot. In January. sandy. Dense undergrowth crowds the way. Thousands now park. But Byron Bay is changing. Thinking they had lived there long enough. Later we learned that Crocodile Dundee¶s Paul Hogan. which were off limits except to those who ignored "no trespassing" signs to explore the clear springs and clean sands when the workers were away. it turned out she grew up in my home town. Burlington. hamburgers. where beach and rocky coast meet a small rain forest. In the afternoon we drove to the Broken Head nature reserve. Like Southern California a generation ago." When I asked where in that area. the taller plants that lined the rim were covered with larger red blossoms. purchase clothes and furniture and books. When the Acme Sand and Gravel pits were leveled and filled. and as an unexpected result were considerably entertained by Alison's sudden predicament. Next morning I walked out early to take a picture of Byron Bay to the west. It sounded like the beginning of a rush. Further along. her later one a lot more. and meet for lunch or dinner²every day in every season. the trail comes to an overlook platform. From the main beach. a sandy beach stretches out toward Cape Byron and the lighthouse. her husband Bill. cliffs drop 200 to 300 feet to the rocky edge of the sea. and I stopped at the platform to admire the view. She raced ahead. while a man with a camera . and was beyond our call and at least halfway down the stairs when we suddenly observed from above that the cove was not empty. We had both lived on Lexington Street.Dinner that evening at The Fondue Inn on Jonson Street drove home to us the smallness of our world. when everyone in Australia heads for the beaches. huge vines droop across the trail. then walked the sands to the east. both spent early swimming and sunbathing times at the Acme Sand and Gravel pits. we sunned and swam some more. As Burlingtonians we had come many miles and years from one idyllic sunny. The cafe. where green plants we could not identify cascaded like waterfalls bearing small yellow flowers over the land's downward drop to the beach. the spot was overlaid with the Burlington Mall²an early model for shopping malls across America. attracted by the natural beauty and the simpler lifestyle of an earlier time. We learned from Darnell that quite a few Americans live in Byron Bay. in heated and climate-controlled interiors decorated with potted plants²where a fortunate few once escaped the heat in the cool waters of sandy springs in the magic days of youthful summers. with the mountains there lit by the morning sun. In the far distance across the water and beyond the lighthouse are the mountains. who already owned a beach house nearby. and there a steep wooden stairway winds down again to water's edge. and ice cream for consumption on a small patio overlooking the sea. Barbara. apparently a service of Byron Shire. and watery spot that has passed into memory to another that may not last forever in its present attractiveness. reached by road. Above them. though some years apart. with rocky coves and small sandy beaches below. They were not sure where. the waitress who shared ownership of the Fondue Inn with the chef. stroll.
which they observed anyway as we came down the stairs after Alison's bursting upon them. but our passage was less precipitous than hers had been. The next day we continued to explore the area around Byron Bay. the Cape Byron lighthouse stands at the top of a high rocky point. Less than an hour's drive north of Byron Bay. for the man. watching her footing. It seemed reasonable we should join her. A ship traveling directly eastward would view nothing but the wide Pacific. They had with them a girl of three of four who attached herself to us. The steep. Magellan sailed through this part of the Pacific in 1521. Racing downward. Partly. finding our fun in the water more interesting than her mother's with the camera. In time. and could have recorded it with the zoom lens of our camera. The sandy area was very small. Topless women we already knew were not a remarkable sight on Australian beaches. since she was in their midst before she took in the scene and was carried beyond it by the momentum of her eagerness to get to the water. and the appeal of the same body carefully posed to make the most of whatever gifts nature has endowed her with. Arriving in South Tweed Heads on the Pacific Highway in search of the center. Later among the postcards of nude and semi-nude women common in seaside areas of New South Wales we found in Byron Bay a few that resembled one of the women in some of her more tasteful poses. fully clothed. rocky slopes are patched with grass that feeds a small herd of wild goats. we thought it polite to let them know we were coming. Of three possible responses--turn in embarrassment and run back up the stairs to join us. we instructed the child to return to her mother. the women continued to pose for pictures more erotic than chaste. A couple of kilometers eastward from our hotel. sailing north from Botany Bay. There is a considerable difference between the appeal of a woman's body lying inert on the sand. When we left. would pull most people up short almost anywhere. but he and many others who followed him for two and a half centuries all missed the broad expanse of Australia to their west. and the women--blonde. Alison suddenly found herself among them. We smiled politely as we passed on to bathe in the surf.stood nearby. Later she confessed it was not a conscious choice. we saw that this was not simply a family photography session or a few pictures among friends. or thread her way through the rocks to another pocket of sand that lay just beyond their impromptu photography studio--she chose to pass on through. Another traveling eastward and somewhat north would come eventually to Tahiti. had we not been restrained by scruples about privacy. however. we regretted that we were unlikely to return soon to enjoy a natural beauty we would have enjoyed even more by ourselves. From this point a ship that traveled eastward and toward the south would come many miles beyond the horizon to New Zealand. descendants of tame animals that belonged to a lighthouse keeper many years ago. Whether the photography session we stumbled upon was commercially successful. and then it would still have over two thousand miles to go before it reached the coast of Chile. spread her towel on the sand beside the group. thin. unless two-thirds of the way across the ocean it chanced upon such small dots as Pitcairn or Easter Island. we had no way of knowing. This kind of full nudity. On our more leisurely approach. A sign proclaims the spot the most easterly point in Australia. When we left. they moved beyond some rocks to a still more hidden cove for a session that seemed to involve lesbian sexuality. but they could have found few more beautiful settings. and attractive without special beauty--were posing carefully under his direction. but we could make it out clearly enough. was equipped with several complicated professional cameras. a visitor is first struck by a vision . and she happily ran back to the group. from which a path leads downward to a wind-swept promontory that drops three hundred feet to the crashing waves below. first saw this point and named it Cape Byron in 1770. but short of swimming out to sea it was impossible to put much distance between us and the photography crew. Meanwhile. All this was very small in scale from where we stood. climbing the high trail over the sea and down through the edge of the rain forest. Captain Cook. the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Center at Tweed Heads attempts to preserve the heritage of the people rapidly displaced after Captain Cook's discovery.
we decided to find the first road over the mountains and return to the Hunter Valley on the New England Highway. The height off the ground promotes air circulation and helps protect the interior from insects and rot. and macadamia nuts. or your common run of insects. the rich land of a once extensive rain forest now supports the farming of dairy cattle. we bought one. the Great Dividing Range had continued as a presence on our left. We were tempted to stop at such a house by a sign that proclaimed the owner a miner with opals for sale. bananas. air circulation. Whatever the value of the purchase (which proved later a good one).000 feet and was named by Captain Cook as a reference point for mariners sailing too close to the reefs where he nearly wrecked the Endeavour at Tweed Heads. bows and arrows. A flight of stairs leads up to a wide veranda that is shuttered to keep the sun out of the interior but louvered to allow breezes through. which rises nearly 4. avocados. as though in a jungle or flood plain. but it was generally desolate. In long stretches of forest that were largely free of under-growth we began to see peculiar conical monoliths. but was happy to chat about types. Some of the mountains of the Great Dividing Range are quite spectacular here. Outside the tourist regions of northern New South Wales. didgeridoos. he didn't mine his opals in the neighborhood. Because his prices were much better than those we had found in Sydney and he seemed a chap who would give a new chum a fair dinkum bargain. and a screening pan. A smaller ring that was once connected to this one now presumably lies under a nearby housing development. with here and there a road marked on the map that would lead up and over to the New England tablelands on the other side. On our drive north from Newcastle. with cattle and sheep browsing in the fields.of vast cultural change. Artifacts are few: bark paintings. and beyond it the high-rise hotels and condominiums of the Gold Coast tower against the sky. and they include Mount Warning. Yet we were beginning to realize that the Aborigines possessed only a rudimentary material culture and that later Australians have been less than diligent in preserving the little there was. he had enriched our store of knowledge. a bucket on a rope. which was no more than a deep. with no towns and rarely a farmhouse in sight. As we expected. had told us where opals were found. Without knowing what we had expected. we were disappointed to find so little. Between the rising portions of the highway. He showed us photographs of his mine. There ought to be more that could be preserved. There is a tea plantation near Murwillumbah. with equipment consisting mostly of a ladder. and spears. sugar cane. boomerangs. with caps of sheet metal where the posts met the floor joists. Pillars that used to be of cedar. are now frequently of concrete. from a past not very distant in years. Then he brought out his stones in black velvet cases for our inspection. We came to it by way of a town that seemed built almost entirely on concrete pillars and as we climbed up through the mountains we saw a very specific reason for the phenomenon that went beyond flooding. and had put us in mind to try a little fossicking ourselves before we left Australia. The rain forest remains in isolated patches and in nature reserves or national parks in the rugged country not far from the coast. qualities. a low mound of earth that surrounds a flat central area where tribal elders once ceremoniously initiated boys into manhood. The Queensland border lies five kilometers ahead. When our few days at Byron Bay came to an end. Nearby is a Bora Ring. a pick and shovel. That vision of balconies and deck chairs and tropical drinks and power boats fades if you turn off the highway and past the South Tweeds Bowls Club to where the Cultural Center occupies a small building on land preserved as a sacred Aboriginal site. . we thought. Video presentations describe the life and the environment that supported it. just a bit south of Byron Bay. The area below the house serves for storage or a garage and is sometimes covered with lattice-work. to the south of Tweed Heads. Towns that not long ago stood small and undeveloped have been turned into an international playground reached by air to Brisbane. Homes in the countryside here often stand on pillars eight or ten feet above the ground. That first road proved to be the Bruxner Highway. the displays consist mostly of pictures and printed narratives about the tools and weapons of a people who lived by hunting and fishing. and prices. Inside. dry well. pineapples. much of the country was open and flat.
in woods and fields. Its runoff feeds rivers that water some of Australia's best farming and grazing lands. Not too many years ago it was Australia's Wild West. covering about 9. relaxed.100 feet in one sheer leap before cascading nearly another 500 feet to reach their bottom (by comparison.430 feet)." four or five hundred difficult road miles west of Tenterfield. We passed fifteen or twenty of them near the road. Because they seemed too regular in shape for stones and we had no context of experience to place them in. the Outback continually receded until by general consent it became the country "back o' Bourke. and parching thirst become deadly enemies of humans and livestock. From Tenterfield to Tamworth At Tenterfield we entered the New England Plateau. It is a country of bushrangers and wild colonial boys. dust. stopped for lunch at a handsome 1890s house that had been turned into a restaurant. Much of it is possessed in huge tracts by a few men. "Bush" and "Outback" are relative terms. it took us a while to recognize what they were: ant hills constructed by the Australian white ants. New England remains wilder and much less densely populated than the shoreline area on the other side of the mountains. Where the roadside soil was red. the drop at Yosemite Upper Falls is 1. more pleasant road than the Pacific Highway. who employ a few station hands routinely and drovers and shearers as the need arises. he came to public notice with "Clancy of the Overflow" and subsequent poems published in the 1890s in the Sydney Bulletin as by "The Banjo. the squatters. making house pillars of concrete a reasonable precaution.800 feet and we would remain more or less at that level anywhere in New England. This side of the mountains was the Outback that early settlers found so difficult of access. water holes are scarce. Australia's largest highland area. but railroads and good roads have diminished distances and increased the comfort of travel. In a couple of hours we had ascended from sea level to 2. In numbers suggested by the hills. Still. Away from the mountains and rivers. Born Andrew Barton Paterson. The country is rugged and harsh. Women are drover's wives or squatter's wives. For most rural Australians it is the next bloke a little further on who lives in the bush. and considered the drive home. or termites. Niagara drops 173 feet at Horseshoe Falls. in a space of five or ten kilometers. with most of it nearly as far above sea level as all but the highest peaks of the Berkshires. Snow begins in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and Victoria as early as May and lasts as late as November.two to four feet high. they looked like red sandstone. . and men may get bushed--turned around on a dark night with the constellations obscured by clouds. and sun. the bush made famous in Australian song and story. landmarks disappear. rendered nearly sightless by sandy blight. The Wollomombi Falls near Armidale in New England drop 1. For both. driving cattle or sheep still less so. an area about ninety miles wide that stretches two hundred miles south from the Queensland border. the ants must be very difficult to get rid of. In many places the eastern slopes of the Dividing Range are scored with great declivities. in part because it was less traveled. shearers. Isn't that the clump of mallee scrub we camped by two days ago? This is a country of men on the move as drovers. We came to the New England Highway at Tenterfield about noon. and we found the New England Highway a faster. In the early days. with the color and texture of light brown sandstone. It's a little bigger than Massachusetts. or. the real Australia began with the Great Dividing Range that separated bush men from Sydneysiders." By 1903 his vision stood side by side with Henry Lawson's to define Australians and their land to readers around the world. The railroad from Newcastle reached Tenterfield in 1886. The plains stretch endlessly. the land flattens and vegetation languishes. Banjo Paterson was married in 1903 in the Presbyterian Church in Tenterfield. Together they codified much of the Aussie identity that echoes down to our time. in the daytime with the sun directly overhead.000 square miles. or swagmen. diggers. Riding a horse through such country is not easy.
Paterson was educated away from home at Sydney Grammar School. According to the myth. and economic success were too great. Here a billy boiling is a social occasion. He was shearing when I knew him. Lawson's vision of a harsh. Their differences were rooted in backgrounds emblematic of divisions deep within the Australian character. Just on spec. Lawson and Paterson did not respond to every detail of life in the bush in the same way.In this country. educational.There's a lot of patriotism that the land could do without² Sort of BRITISH WORKMAN nonsense that shall perish in the scorn Of the drover who is driven and the shearer who is shorn. and they are twinned in the popular mind. unrelenting life for men and women who deserved better reward for their struggles stood in direct opposition to Paterson's view of life distinguished by its glorious open-aired freedoms and untrammeled spirit of independence. 1889 issue." And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected (And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar). education. It is a country where a door should stand always open. but they merit little thanks From the people of the country in possession of the Banks. Of the struggling western farmers who have little time for rest. Although they agreed on much. "Clancy. The gulfs of social background. and economic distinctions. was articled as a law clerk and began practice as a partner in the firm of Street and Paterson. Born in poverty on a goldfield as the son of a failed digger and settler. Droving songs are very pretty. 'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it. but where not every stranger can be counted friendly. sent to where I met him down the Lachlan years ago. so I sent the letter to him. But they were not mates. but fell precipitously into drunkenness and despair. fortune. rugged individualism is a prized commodity. addressed as follows. and verbatim I will quote it: . Born on a station that his father first owned and later managed. Paterson was "The City Bushman" chided in the Lawson poem of that title for failing to understand the real bush: Though the bush has been romantic and it's nice to sing about. And are ruined on selections in the sheep-infested West. as city workers dream of the freedom of the bush. and earned fame. and longlasting respectability as a writer. but a wise man does not travel alone. The two poems establishd a bifurcation that is still apparent in Australia a hundred years later. an observer must set the equally strong history of a people always sensitive to social. Lawson rose from cramped circumstances and sparse education to fame as a chronicler of the bush. but it is not always polite to ask the source of the tucker. it is worth quoting fully: ³Clancy of The Overflow´ I had written him a letter which I had. of The Overflow. for want of better Knowledge. Beside the powerful Australian myth of a fair go for everyone in a nation of mates who are all equal regardless their origins. His"The City Bushman" was a direct response to Paterson's "Clancy of The Overflow" which appeared in the Bulletin's Christmas. two writers from the bush who became suddenly and almost simultaneously famous for bush writings should have been mates.
Clancy rides behind them singing. and their stunted forms and weedy.000 in a success that the London Literary Yearbook called "without parallel in colonial literary annals. And the hurrying people daunt me. Through the open window floating. Lawson published two . where a stingy Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall. perhaps only Kipling had a larger audience. And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars. and their pallid faces haunt me As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste. Most readers preferred Paterson's good-humored celebration of bush life to Lawson's dour denigration. While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal-But I doubt he'd suit the office. And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty. Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go. And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet." Among living poets in English. spreads its foulness over all. I can hear the fiendish rattle Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street. With their eager eyes and greedy. Paterson's The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses earned a worldwide readership with sales that passed 100. Lawson's first book found only limited readership in Australia. For townsfolk have no time to grow."Clancy's gone to Queensland droving. I am sitting in my dingy little office. they have no time to waste. dirty city. As the stock are slowly stringing. And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended. and we don't know where he are. and their kindly voices greet him In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars. Hoping for similar results. And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy. For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know." In my wild erratic fancy. And the bush has friends to meet him. of The Overflow. visions come to me of Clancy Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go. And in place of lowing cattle. Clancy.
until he has cornered the prize colt and the bush horses and "alone and unassisted brought them back. For three more stanzas the poem describes the hard riding of the man from Snowy River. The story of the title poem of The Man from Snowy River is simplicity itself. Those hills are far too rough for such as you." The next few stanzas bring the chase to the top of Mount Kosciusko. . the poem rings with allegorical bravado. outrides more experienced station hands to capture a valuable colt that has run off with wild horses. . . for he is mounted on a horse . When the unpromising youngster bests his elders. And the old man said." No man." Then it concludes: And down by Kosciusko." But Clancy of The Overflow speaks on the youngster's behalf. "a stripling" on an unlikely horse.000 copies by 1900. . he is at first rebuffed.books in the next year. that is. The man from Snowy River. And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer. you'd better stop away. where the pine-clad ridges raise Their torn and rugged battlements on high. "That horse will never do For a long and tiring gallop²lad. for he knows what good men a harsh country can produce: "He hails from Snowy River. the slim narrative conjoins powerful Australian ideals of underdog heroes and manly outdoor skills. /No man can hold them down the other side. For a nation troubled by a continued sense of inferiority among the powers of the world. Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint-stones every stride. Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough. let the pony have his head. up by Kosciusko's side. and the white stars faintly blaze At midnight in the cold and frosty sky. and although these sold close to 50. where ". 'We may bid the mob good day. who: . . except the man from Snowy River. While the others stood and watched in very fear. And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed. Where the river runs those giant hills between. he never attained the overwhelming success of Paterson. But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen. Where the air is clear as crystal. The man that holds his own is good enough. the old man muttered fiercely. And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home. however. . When the young man wants to join in pursuit of the "thousand pound" colt. one would doubt his power to stay. Australia's highest peak. . so slight and weedy. I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam.
A poem of only 104 lines. spawning two movies as recently as the 1980s: The Man from Snowy River and Return to Snowy River. Most readers outside of Australia have long since forgotten "The Man from Snowy River. "Waltzing Matilda. a tramp. And the stockmen tell the story of his ride. the final upper dog. It replaces the unnamed man from Snowy River with an unnamed swagman in a generic billabong. "Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?" Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda. my darling Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me? Waltzing Matilda and leading a water-bag-Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me? Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water-hole. it rings with cheerful defiance of earthly authority and ends in mockery of death. Remembering the rollicking rhythm. and substitutes for the reckless horsemanship of the youngster the reckless theft of a man who breaks the bounds of lawful behavior. and the rolling plains are wide. the squatter. "You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me. And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling. and the swagman." Down came the Squatter a-riding his thoroughbred." which within Australia has very nearly the status of a national anthem. and echoes as a ghostly taunt after the swagman drowns himself and his disembodied voice continues to sing in the billabong. or bundle. a reader may easily forget that the poem tells of a stolen sheep (a jumbuck) and that "Waltzing Matilda" plays several variations on the swagman's description of carrying the swag. Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him in glee.And where around The Overflow the reed-beds sweep and sway To the breezes." and "Clancy of The Overflow. ³Waltzing Matilda´ Oh! there once was a swagman camped in a Billabong Under the shade of a Coolabah tree. a station owner. of his belongings. stands at the top. a poem that sings liltingly of the freedom of the open road²a cheerful song for campers or for soldiers marching to its upbeat tempo²turns sinister as the swagman takes the jumbuck to go "a-waltzing Matilda with me. Sung to the tune of a Scottish marching song." but they have not forgotten the Banjo's most famous poem. And he sang as he stowed him away in his tucker-bag. "Waltzing Matilda" carries the celebration of reckless individualism in "The Man from Snowy River" a step further. . at the bottom. it reverberates in the Australian mind. The Man from Snowy River is a household word today." threatens when the police suggest the confinement of prison. In the social order of the bush. In a few short stanzas.
The roof is of the corrugated iron common in the countryside. constitute a heavy percentage of the world's supply. we passed through a central hall to the dining room. he up and he jumped in the water-hole. By the roadside near Glen Innis. Thunderbolt's Rock commands a view of many miles of the countryside. we drove the New England Highway south through hills and mountains. Rolf Boldrewood said. South of Uralla. though. near Inverell. the home where we stopped for lunch was about twenty years old at the time. it is easy to believe that giants from the Dreamtime have strewn rocks in abandon over the rough landscape. Australia's roaring days. is a popular pastime. And his ghost may be heard as he sings in the billabong. the huge granite of Balancing Rock rests precariously on top of a smaller. Inside. "Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?" This is a poem with a chip on its shoulder. at the southern end of the Dividing Range. seem not far in the past. Bluff Rock. the Australian term for sieving or panning for gold or gems. The surprising uprights of one group create an accidental Stonehenge. This is gold mining. two. Authority will assert its power. Individualism has a price. Without looking for the church where Paterson was married. and gem country. pointed boulder. while elaborate scrollwork on the gable end and more than commonly attractive iron lacework on the railing of the veranda suggest an affluent history. Elsewhere. Not far from Tenterfield an imposing volcanic remnant. It remains a handsome. Fossicking. too. Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree. Paterson's Snowy River and Mount Kosciusko are over five hundred miles south of Tenterfield. No permanent sign suggests this is more than a private home. cut-stone structure. The bushranger Captain Thunderbolt is buried at Uralla and memorialized there by an equestrian statue." But the swagman. was a relic of the past²an antique flush toilet in an outbuilding beyond the back door. and Deloraine. this and the nearby Riverina were the parts he knew best. but you don't lose your sense of humor. was the inspiration for the "Terrible Hollow" of his Robbery Under Arms: . He was married in Tenterfield. and three. Somewhere in the area. Four brick chimneys testify to a generous supply of fireplaces within that would be welcome much of the year to ward of the cold of this altitude. Its sentiments lend crystalline illumination to elements of the Australian class struggle that inform longer works like Rolf Boldrewood's Robbery Under Arms and Joseph Furphy's Such is LIfe. bush ranging. When he lived in the bush (he spent much of his life in Sydney or abroad). Victorian woodwork. Sapphires found west of Glen Innis. "Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag? You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me. and admired the antique furniture and dark.Down came Policemen²one. when Glen Innis was held up by bushrangers three times in two weeks. Uralla began as a gold town and has still a working mine not far away. ordered tea and sandwiches. mate²and you don't stop celebrating your freedom. with a gable facing the street and a long ell with a veranda standing off to its side. The restaurant is announced by a roadside sandwich board and a sign with the small legend "open" hanging above the grillwork gate to the veranda. The public bathroom. The rest of the house was occupied by the family. thrusts its perpendicular sides above the highway.
It records a wall of orange flame. with one white cloud. and at 100 kilometers an hour we would soon pass the area that looked most fiercely in flames. where in long past ages a subsidence had taken place. We decided we would not leave Australia without returning to an area with so many geologic attractions and literary and historical associations. The sandstone walls are stated to be three thousand feet high. It was described in the local paper at Armidale. No one else . rapidly approaching the road. that stands mostly three to six or eight feet high. That was our closest approach to the many fires we saw that season. with a creek running through it. but leaps in places twenty feet into the air to lick at the lower branches of the trees. and above that the blue sky. purple hump of a mountain. New England. New England. and as soon as I snapped the shutter I rapidly rolled up the window and passed a hand across my eyebrows to see if I had singed them. about to start for Queensland with stolen stock. the flames feed upon tall brown grass. but on our first visit we passed through it quickly. and got a good shot as we sped past. We remembered no side roads for quite a number of miles back. advanced the film in the camera. often as distant smoke. I rolled down the window. We calculated correctly in assuming the flames would not reach the road before we went through. remains visible through the smoky haze. Beyond the forest stands the dark. but they were astonishingly hot. A few white skeletons shorn of bark and leafy cover by earlier deaths will eventually fall and join the ground litter to fuel future fires. Barbara was driving. the gum trees rise with most of their upper branches leaved out of reach of the hungry flames. So we kept on.That weird fastness was drawn from a formation of "sunk country. we decided there were none conveniently to hand. On one long. We were passing through an area heavily forested with gum trees. sometimes as nearby flames. The area of grass country enclosed is fairly large. Briefly considering alternative routes. Behind that sheet of fire." in the Gwydir district. Only in retrospect did it occur that it would not have been good to experience a breakdown or flat tire along that stretch of road. straight and slightly downward stretch of highway we saw the smoke of bush fires spread against the sky some miles ahead. Near the car. and as we drew closer we could see in the nearer distance that the flames were rapidly approaching the road. when the police had just arrested there a gang of horse and cattle stealers. Stopping to wait for the flames to play themselves out seemed an unlikely tactic that involved the gamble that they would not change their direction and roar up the hill to assault us.
as they have continued to do up to the present. The whites. inviting the terrible fires that periodically destroy whole neighborhoods. 1851 as much as a quarter of the new colony of Victoria burned²an area of 300 by 150 miles that stretched from the Snowy River to the Murray. the discovery of gold near Bathurst in New South Wales began the rush that sent tens of thousands of men scrabbling for nuggets. And then there were the billy fires. When abroad. despite the lessons of earlier fires and in spite of better communications and postwar advances in firefighting techniques. for the stringybark shanty of the early outback. away from the flames. found fires useful. Fires swept through the Blue Mountains and into Sydney's southern suburbs and Gosford. and swagmen all camped in the open. they speak nostalgically of the lemony smell of eucalyptus leaves. range riders.300 houses in a span of five hours. They seem to harbor a repressed urban longing. 1939 that smoke darkened the midday sky and people lighted their way with hurricane lamps. and also to renew it periodically by burning off the dry grass as their ancestors had done in England. Here. Concentrated in Tasmania. because more elaborate protection had to be taken against fires that might rage beyond control of beaters thrashing the flames with green branches of gum trees. and there was no evidence of firefighting. Managed fires gave further encouragement to the natural cycle of burning and renewal. Black Sunday. They burned to clear the land. fires on Tuesday. they protected their homes and their harvested stacks of wheat by digging trenches and burning circles around cultivated areas. February 6. as a palliative against the dryness of the bush. a natural part of seasonal changes. nurtured under fireproof roofs of tile or iron. Ausralians chew eucalyptus leaves. On Black Thursday. Less than a year after his arrival with the first convicts. The shimmy we began to recognize in our front suspension not long after seemed more ominous than it would have before. Smoke blotted out the sun and traffic jammed the roads as thousands of people tried to evacuate.000 acres and destroyed 1. in novels at least. Henry Handel Richardson conveys the feeling in Ultima Thule (Book Three of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony): Meanwhile a burning February ran its course. With fencers. Only a few human lives were lost. drovers. as hundreds or thousand of homes burned. however. nearly a thousand miles away. Fires appear in Australian literature as an accepted condition of life in the bush. Six days later. the temperature ranged as high as 112 to 117 degrees Fahrenheit. the small fires they set for billy boiling sometimes turned into larger ones that swept over hundreds of thousands of acres. January 13. Australia's most populous area. Here." The symbiotic cycle of burning and renewal that helped sustain the Aborigines through thousands of years continued under different conditions when fire became a weapon against white invaders. Governor Phillip observed that "In all the country through which I have passed. as each cleared space and each burning off nurtured newer grassy undergrowth to turn brown in the dry season and provide still more fuel for fires. 1994. Airline pilots reported ash clouds over New Zealand. I have seldom gone a mile without seeing trees which appear to have been destroyed by fire. "the best piece of water" that Governor Phillip "ever saw" when he discovered it in 1788 on the expedition where he ringed his camps with fire against the hostile fires of the Aborigines. but think it madness to plant the trees as close to homes as people in California do. many of them poking over blackened ground where before the year was out the rush came to Ballarat and Bendigo.was passing. in January. 1967 produced a loss of life and property greater than on any single previous day. Then. Fires ranged so famously out of control on Friday. To step off the verandah now was like stepping into a furnace. settlers found conditions different from those that prevailed at home. February 7. they ranged so violently that one was reported to have burned over 650. In Melbourne. The sky was white with heat: across its vast pale expanse moved . but tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle died. Then. At Broken Bay. 1926 proved the worst day for a series of Australian fires that burned 5 million acres in New South Wales alone in 1926-27. too. fires widely reported as the worst in 200 years raged over 500 miles of coastal New South Wales. February 14. to the north. million-dollar homes went up in flames while residents packed what they could and fled to sea in their yachts.
Lagoon. The fire had been allayed. the "Country Music Capital of Australia. invaded the rooms. but my father's foresight in getting cattle to eat down the high grass preserved Coorain from that danger. similarly concerned with drought. the tang of burning wood smarted the lungs. Father and the boys had been forced to leave the harvesting of the miserable pinched wheat while they went to mend it. A galvanized-iron awning connected our kitchen and house: in this some swallows had built. American strips such as "Peanuts" and "Hi and Lois" had held over their Father's Day jokes to coincide with the Australian date. Among other Sunday comics. Miles Franklin describes a December day in 1898. These did occur on land quite close to us. The very air was white with dust. Jill Ker Conway. we decided to push on. Driving more slowly for the next hundred kilometers. I had a heavy day's work before me. the slight fall was of no consequence because our major worry was that the accumulation of growth on the land would produce serious bushfires. and investigate further in the morning." boasts a "Country Music Gallery of Stars featuring lifelike wax images of country music greats. was tired at the beginning. copper-colored sun. The literature in our room informed us that Tamworth. the rainfall declined noticeably in each successive year. Sunday was Father's Day in Australia. and ate at the Tamworth McDonald's. Bush-fires had been raging in the vicinity during the week. Although service stations are widely spaced on Australian highways. Dust carpeted the boards of the verandah. the dust-clouds were so dense that everything²trees. and had to be carefully preserved from the neighbor's stock. like the Big Banana. from my exertions of the day before. So extreme was the heat that to save the lives of some young swallows my father had to put wet bags over the iron roof above their nest. And then the fires started: in all the country round the bush was ablaze. But never a drop of rain fell. each conveys in her work a strong nostalgia for the beauty of a countryside that regularly apotheosizes itself in flames. Around Armidale our front-end shimmy became more pronounced. the very garden itself²was blotted out. In 1940. and yesterday had come so close that I had been called out to carry buckets of water all afternoon in the blazing sun. township. one is unlikely to drive by unawares. find a motel for the night. as the small allowance of grass the drought gave us was precious. then drove to a service station where I filled up the gas tank but was told no mechanic in town would work on Sunday²unless possibly the man who ran the Mobil Station on the road leaving .a small. In The Road from Coorain. found a motel. and. after making a gap in one of our boundary fences. we reached Tamworth with darkness rapidly approaching. While did a windstorm rise. with the fires only one more aggravation in a life with few pleasures: It was a very hot day." Outside the gallery a huge guitar constitutes a roadside presence that. I spent the first ten or fifteen minutes of my Father's Day underneath the car without finding the cause of the shimmy. Or the hot winds streaked it with livid trails of wind-smitten cloud. Probably we needed a wheel balancing or front end alignment. the sky hung dark as with an overhead fog. placing their nest so near the iron that the young ones were baking with the heat until rescued by the wet bagging. Although each of the women who wrote those passages left Australia to seek feminine empowerment elsewhere. but when we stopped at the side of the road to examine the tires and tie rods we could see no reason for it. drove into the passage. expresses the fire danger as a passing worry: After the great rain of 1939. In My Brilliant Career.
an island separated by only a narrow strait from the continent of Australia. Aussies were training in Palestine. 4. But we know. as the war in the Pacific continued to go badly. was the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the war. too.000 died defending it. I kept him company while he broke it down. destroying 23 aircraft. and mounted a new one. Barbara and the girls found comfortable places to wait while he replaced the tire and relived with me a male camaraderie forged in the passions of another time. with the United States as its keystone. In minutes he had the car on the lift and the left front tire spinning to display an unmistakable aneurism I had failed to see and that would surely blow out before we drove much further. in power. under fire for his overseas policies. In 1940 and 1941 they fought Italian and German armies in North Africa. Now. John Curtin. struggled and died in Syria. 1942. removed it from the rim. had resigned. but on this morning these qualities poured out in extra measures. I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America. in Australia's Northern Territory. This Australian Father's Day. On the same day. Prime Minister Menzies. The British surrended Hong Kong. We are. and it brought back memories. Japanese troops landed on the mainland of New Guinea. September 3. We know the dangers of dispersal of strength. that Australia can go and Britain can still hold on. The Second World War was a turning point in Australia's relationships to Great Britain and the United States. By now the shimmy at high speeds had turned into a serious bumping even at low ones. the new Prime Minister. On March 8. fought again in the failed defense of Crete. December proved one disaster after another for the Allies. delivered his historic "Australia looks to America" message: The Australian Government regards the Pacific struggle as primarily one in which the United States and Australia must have the fullest say in the direction of the democracies' fighting plan. therefore. Guam fell. He saw immediately that we were Americans. they were already more than halfway there. troops landed in Australia. the first U. with the New Year approaching and a new party. This was one of those times and places in the world where one feels especially proud to be a Yank. When Hitler invaded Poland in September. Four days later. but in the 1940s a few years and a few thousand miles had made considerable difference in our experiences. 1939. and friendly. The previous August. southward toward Australia. Silently thankful that it hadn't blown as we passed the fire. On May . Aussie troops immediately prepared to go abroad to fight beside the British Army and by November compulsory military training for home service was introduced. Fortunately the Mobil Station man was in and willing to work.500 men who were originally intended for the defense of the Philippines. By December. Without any inhibitions of any kind. free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom. We shall exert all our energies towards the shaping of a plan. 1941. Britain went to war and Australia's Prime Minister Menzies announced that Australia.Tamworth on the other side of town.384 Australian soldiers were taken prisoner in the capture of Singapore. dug defensive trenches in their back yards. sinking 8 ships. Then came the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. Japanese planes bombed Darwin. We talked of World War II. then Wake Island. helpful. Labor. and removed street signs in an effort to confuse an invading army. which will give our country some confidence of being able to hold out until the tide of battle swings against the enemy. 1989. darkened their windows against the night sky and boarded them to prevent flying glass. Japanese troops landed in northern Malaya and began a rapid advance along the peninsula. determined that Australia shall not go. Just days before that speech. Australians built air-raid shelters. He was a vigorous man in his late sixties. and killing 243 people. was at war in support of the mother country.S. We know the problems that the United Kingdom faces. It was a small beginning for a massive effort. 15. too. Or mostly he talked. not much older than I. We found Australians always warm. We know the constant threat of invasion. after nearly 2. On the 15th of February. Counting miles from Tokyo. In 1941 they fought to resist the southward German advance in Greece.
of course. There can be no compromise. economic. candidly acknowledged our situation. and of how it was an even more powerful land (hardly possible!) than our Mother Country . and to this end I pledge to you the full resources of all the military power of my country and all the blood of my countrymen. their spirits soared when the Labor Prime Minister. My parents were rugged individualists who scorned social-ism and the Labor Party as the political recourse of those who lacked initiative. I thought the American accent was funny. as paralyzed as the defenders of Singapore. I developed in my mind a shining image of President Roosevelt. and called for American assistance. Churchill only reluctantly agreed to return some of its troops to the Pacific theater of . took office. This was the first dent made on my mind by America.800 Australians who had enlisted in England's Royal Air Force. women. We began to hear tales of America's wealth and liveliness. It was an important lesson. his decision-maker's eyes staring through his spectacles. making themselves part of our future. huge in their uniforms that smelled of starch. A week later. Japanese submarines made their way into Sydney Harbor and sank a ferry boat. Considering Australia expendable. My father told me that during the war the Australian prime minister.31. Meanwhile. there were nearly a million GIs in a country with a total population of men. and political currents pulling sometimes more strongly toward their American elder brother than to their English Mother as they struggled to create for their country an increasingly independent place among nations. Terrill and Conway grew up to careers in the United States. but on the whole the Americans were welcomed as saviors. most Australian forces were abroad. submarines shelled Newcastle. Nine squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force were serving in the United Kingdom and the Middle East alongside 8.000 Australian brides came to the United States with new American husbands. and of his grey American ships. The Mobil Station owner. Ross Terrill recounts his memories in The Australians: As a toddler I was tossed caramels wrapped in foil of brilliant colors by the American GIs who had arrived to defend us. The soldiers. He and his mates had already survived a couple of years of war when the Americans arrived. but behind those caramels in colored foil there seemed to be strength. . . Three of the four divisions of the Australian Imperial Forces. and I found them reassuring. Australians at home began after the war to feel their cultural. and fights between Yanks and Aussies on leave in Australian cities. the country's ground troops. In time. After the war. They recognized an Australian patriot. announced that the United States. not Britain. spoke mostly of his New Guinea experience in the dark days of 1942. who had been a flight engineer on Liberty Bombers. as Australians of earlier generations went to England. busy in the Pacific Ocean. John Curtin. There were jealousies and resentments. were cheerful and generous. Just so. 10. . and the old empire mentalities of our leaders left them. were stationed in the Middle East and most of the fourth was in Malaya. Nonetheless. John Curtin. American troops kept arriving. We shall win or we shall die. and I learned for the first time that loyalty to Great Britain and love for Australia were not synonymous. and children of barely seven times that number. When the threat of Japanese invasion of their homeland came. without the protection of Great Britain. flying a strange striped flag. And General MacArthur promised that the Americans would defend Australia with their blood: My faith in our ultimate victory is invincible and I bring to you all the unbreakable spirit of the free man's military code in support of our just cause. Jill Ker Conway reports the time in this way The Road from Coorain: The task of defending the country was impossible for Australians alone. would be Australia's chief rescuer.
Virtually no regular soldiers were left at home in Australia. bitter cold in the high. Should that fall. They were seventeen or eighteen years old and just out of school. He and his mates knew what war meant. Pressed into duty." Made of wood. and into the pine woods of Simonds Park. however. two existing airfields were rebuilt and three new ones built. He was immensely moved by these fresh-faced Yanks who had come halfway around the world to fight side by side in the jungle in defense of the Australian homeland. which rise in places to 13. I experienced the war through my father's shipyard work. Warweary Aussie veterans settled in to stop the Japanese advance in New Guinea. it was no match for the Japanese Zero. Difficult as the task seemed. With American help. I was reminded strongly for the second time that week of the uncanny smallness of the world. Seriously disadvantaged in the air when the Japanese struck in the Pacific. and by the thenunmatched superiority of the Japanese Navy. Twelve years old in a small town in New England in 1942. an Australian trainer not designed for combat duty. In July. in Papua. through salvaged cans and grease. They would cross the Owen Stanley Mountains. the Australians had only forty-three combat aircraft still stationed at home to patrol 12. the invading army would be positioned comparatively a stone's throw across the Torres Strait from the Australian mainland. For Australians. through ration stamps for butter and meat. B-25s. where by early 1942 many had died or been taken prisoner. He didn't know him well or long. became the main staging point for the defense. The Mobil man talked of British Spitfires and de Havilands and of Australian Hudson bombers and Catalina flying boats and the kinds of engines they were powered by. they were most welcome. where the task of defense was placed in the hands of hastily raised militia. In March. the Mobil man told me. and B-26s² were taking on fuel there for their runs against Raboul (in New Britain) and elsewhere. fight their way through rain forests and swamps.operations. not much more than 100 miles away. it became a bomber when fully loaded. had seen their fellow airmen downed in flames over fields and oceans. and endure torrential rains that drench the earth in as many as eight or ten inches of water in a day. They would contend with tropical heat in the low places. The Zero was especially deadly in its maneuvering near the water. the town I lived in and the larger one in Vermont. and felt close to that other New Englander from 1942 and his Australian friend. The Americans were only kids.000 miles of Australian coast. they would support their ground forces with constant pounding of Australian positions by aircraft and artillery. Port Moresby. which would then become difficult or impossible to defend. the Wirraway proved in his opinion (which I hope I remember correctly) "the most remarkable plane in the war. They fought for every inch of the Kokoda Trail. 1924 with their A-24s and in April with their P39s. and as he spoke in Australia's New England of that wartime friendship with a young man from America's New England. by the tennis courts. . When the Americans came to Port Moresby in March. They had survived bombings and evacuations. This would be jungle warfare of the most difficult kind. which would cut off Allied supply routes to Port Moresby. but liked him immensely. on the north side of the Papuan peninsula to prepare for a land thrust over the Kokoda Trail to Port Moresby. through the flickering images of newsreels and the urgent voices of radio commentators. which he admired for its effectiveness at all altitudes. but was light enough to fly as a fighter without bombs. By late April the American heavy bombers²B-17s. These twenty-nine Hudsons and fourteen Catalinas were essentially all the planes available for fighting in New Guinea²these and the Wirraway. Among them he remembered especially a youngster from Vermont. I knew two Burlingtons. Like other Aussie planes. but were continually overwhelmed and forced to retreat until by mid-September the Japanese advanced to within about 25 miles of Port Moresby. and through the war games we played with wooden guns across the grassy playing fields. the Japanese landed at Lae and Salamaua on the northern side of New Guinea and began bombing Port Moresby. they landed in the Buna area. this was a crucial campaign. through shade-darkened windows and automobile headlights painted black on their upper halves.000 feet.
The charge for mounting and balancing was $6. At the Battle of Midway. He had never forgotten the boy from Vermont. but he didn't want me to leave. he said. the wholesale price. He was happy to meet a Yank again and had enjoyed our talk. though he had no objection to a bit of loosening if only the right cultures were encouraged and there were fewer welfare programs to support the deadbeats. As a businessman. boys of fourteen and fifteen served and died. Mind you. The tire was mounted and the car released from the lift. if it had not been for the Americans. We would take it for a test drive to see if the problem was solved. battleships.000 Americans who lost their lives there had been his friends. The towns necessitated major slowdowns. He spoke of Australian enlistment practices during the war. As we descended from the New England table-lands and the Hunter Valley.Meanwhile. What was clear was that a number of the 2. where they managed to stave off complete defeat until January. Back at the garage.000 Australians and 1. We cruised the long. bush. whose plane lost power on take-off and exploded near the base. brown. There was no shimmy. on the tip of the Peninsula. mate. with many stud farms spread behind white board fences along . in Papua. he was hampered by too many regulations." and of heroic troops. we saw the monumental guitar standing beside the Country Music Gallery of Stars. but drove on past. he was certain. He still carried much fear of the Japanese. who. Near Port Moresby. He was much bemused by the irony of a history that had made Australia and the United States so dependent on them. he charged me $75 for the tire. An attempted Japanese invasion there in August was turned back in heavy fighting that lasted into September. the risk of fire seemed minimal here. roadside grasses of most of our trip. would remain a threat if in losing the war they had not received pretty much what they wanted anyway. many now ghosts. Japanese aircraft carriers. I thanked him as profusely as I knew how. though he was probably most of the time at Port Moresby. who marched jauntily to that tune into some of the most terrible battles of the twentieth century. the open pastures became strikingly greener than the dry. less than a month later. straight stretches at the speed limit of 110 kph or a bit more and watched Australians zoom past at 10 or 20 kph faster than that. in battles of September 16th and 17th. 1943. Because no proof of age was required. After the Battle of the Coral Sea. but still we drove and still he talked. even two weeks later. Leaving Tamworth. Farmlands in the Hunter are lushly fertile. The tire would do me fine. and Outback against merciless invading troops. an airfield was built in June at Milne Bay. By November they had been forced back to their coastal bases. and insisted on showing me a list price of $114 in his book. He shrugged it off. Immigration policies were askew. the Battle of the Coral Sea was fought on May 8. No worries. Aussies were still machine gunning Japanese survivors in the water. Precisely where my Mobil friend was in all this remained unclear to me. Australia would have lost the war and their country. and transports en route to Port Moresby and the coast of Queensland were turned back in the first defeat for forces that had swept all before them to that point. Barbara and the girls were not interested and my mind held images of a ghostly swagman singing "Waltzing Matilda. The push toward a multicultural society begun in the 1970s was a mistake. he said. they would not have lost it easily. Japanese attempts to cut the lines of communication between the United States and Australia were turned into a massive defeat that changed the course of the war. The present Australian government had taken too many wrong turns. but would have turned it into guerrilla warfare fought in cities. In this season. the Japanese troops that had fought so hard overland to reach that point were defeated and sent into retreat along the Kokoda Trail. Bushrangers and Bullock Drivers The 266 kilometers from Tamworth to Newcastle proved an easy three-and-a-half-hour drive. To protect the eastern flank of Port Moresby.
The long I replaces long a¯ in common speech as well as in the electronic media. S. our bushranger²and we even lacked proud. After I left Australia.000 dead. strategically speaking. with their gashes pretty well protected from the sight of passersby by huge. and by others who imitate the speech of pommies. The coal region is centered around Musswellbrook. Austrailee-a. was that after six months of bitter fighting and some 8. fighter planes. An Australian colleague at the University of Newcastle who had recently returned from a Fulbright year in the United States. and ground troops. Giant power plants turn to immediate electricity the coal that is not sent to Newcastle and abroad.the New England Highway. impossible without American battleships. Department of the Army's series United States Army in World War II. Before the Japanese got there. Most Australians don't seem to hear this i for a. World War II promoted a sense of Australian identity increasingly separate from Great Britain and more and more tied to the United States. The fighting in New Guinea was a turning point in the war. Neither Cockney nor Austriilian. they also want to assert their distinctive nationality. leaves lasting scars. had conducted his research at "Yile" University. Ross Terrill observes of his childhood in northeastern Victoria in the 1940s that: We had no Australian heroes²only the anti-hero Ned Kelly. and the Pacific Rim. Oceania.500 casualties. My journal for the next day indicates that two months after arrival I was still wrestling with Australian pronunciation: Is it Austrail-ya. and was profoundly moved to read the summary in the book's penultimate paragraph: A bloody and long drawn out campaign had ensued. that they celebrate individual heroics with an enthusiasm seldom accorded group efforts. or. the TV Guide printed as interesting trivia the idea that the musical owes its name to an American illusion that Cockneys pronounce "Mayfair lady" that way. When My Fair Lady was broadcast on television during our stay. that they carry in their genes a winning affection for all species of underdogs. nevertheless. that they hold close to their hearts a cheerful scorn of hierarchies of authority. When it finally ended on 22 January 1943. Writing of a time nearly twenty years later when she was an adult almost ready to emigrate to the United States. strong creatures like the lion or the dragon to look up to. Small wonder Aussies cling fiercely to a hard-won national identity. as radio and television announcers frequently give it. bombers. of some native Australians educated in England. Yet a victory won at such cost. green. It also left the country inevitably allied to the developing community of nations of Southeast Asia. Jill Ker Conway also evokes Ned Kelly and places his name beside two American ones as she asks . It remains a long a in the speech of pommies. that their mockery of pommies seems in some sense an act of patriotism. where gigantic open pit mines dating from the nineteenth century are still working. one had to assume would do such a thing. including 3. the only result. Austriilee-a (with the i long. with their tendency to run the wrong way when the dogs were rounding them up. the Southwest Pacific Area was exactly where it would have been the previous July had it been able to secure the beachhead before the Japanese got there. no pommy he. to rhyme with "try")? One hears them all. What-ever portions of their historical identity Australians recognize as owing to others. still when it rined it rined. their Aussie spirit of independence. with success made possible by the Battle of the Coral Sea. carriers. I looked into Samuel Milner's Victory in Papua. roadside berms. although the rine did not stie minely on the pline. and dairy farms and vineyards mostly out of view further back from the road. We had only the rather dumb merinos. published in 1957 in the U. In common speech in Austriilia.
he was pursued from Tamworth. he imbibed early the belief that landowners and police were the hereditary enemies of the freedom-loving Irish²or of free men everywhere²an idea widely circulated in Australia after the battle of Eureka Stockade and kept alive by . Four years later as a "ticket-ofleave" man (freed from prison. 135 miles northeast of Melbourne. Thunderbolt's Rock provided him a lookout from which he could scan the countryside for many miles to sight victims or pursuers long before they could be aware of his presence. Eight kilometers south of the statue. say. an old building identified as McCrossin's Mill contains a small museum dedicated to the history of the area and its bushranger. and shot dead when he refused to surrender. with excursions west to the area near Bourke and north into Queensland. inns. Thunderbolt sits in the saddle with his head slightly down and a flat. a bronze Captain Thunderbolt confronts passing traffic on the bronze horse of a statue erected as a contribution to Australia's bicentennial observances. marginal people. eager to spring into action. but not from his sentence. Near the statue. or a long-distance gallop to escape pursuers. for good behavior) he was again arrested for horse stealing and imprisoned on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbor. Celebrated for his long rides and fine horses. next to the cemetery with his gravestone. Alongside the New England Highway. wide-brimmed hat shading his eyes as with one hand he strokes the horse's neck in a calming gesture. assessing his chances. Thunderbolt at age twenty-one was convicted of stealing fifteen horses and sentenced to ten years in prison. The son of an Irishman transported for stealing two pigs. tense. and stagecoaches along the New England Highway from the Newcastle suburb of Maitland to the New England tablelands. his ears erect. or outlaws like Ned Kelly. His head is up. as one of the "marginal people" and "outlaws" that Australians count as heroes. He is ready for action--the robbery of a stagecoach. In 1870. run down near Uralla. they might have cited Captain Thunderbolt. at thirty-five. The more famous Ned Kelly was born in 1855 and raised in the bush near Benalla. he worked alone or with a gang and eluded the police for seven years. It is easy to imagine him there observing the horses and men pursuing him from Tamworth after his last hold-up. rather than triumphant frontier figures like Daniel Boone or Buffalo Bill?" If Terrill and Conway had spent their early years in New England. the bushranger buried at Uralla. Born Frederick Ward in Windsor.a question haunting to Australians: "Why was my mind full of images of exhausted. Earning notoriety as the only convict to escape from Cockatoo²he had to swim from the island²he turned to bushranging and robbed travelers. The horse stands slightly back on his haunches. New South Wales in 1835. with one foreleg raised to paw the air.
1878 the Kelly gang shot and killed three police officers at Stringybark Creek. Victoria and New South Wales joined to increase the rewards for the gang to 2." After the Jerilderie raid. That night. his two brothers." he said. the police poured out to engage in battle with the waiting Kelly gang. Joe Byrne. the gang herded the towns-people into the local hotel and ripped up the rail lines so the cars would be derailed and the police could be massacred in the confusion by the deadly fire of the outlaws. "It's all gone wrong. 1880. and waited until Monday morning to don police uniforms and hold up the Jerilderie branch of the Bank of New South Wales. In the same year that Captain Thunderbolt's career ended with a gunshot. more shots rang out and the armored figure fell. It didn't save him from hanging. where his trial took place in October. another sister's husband. Two days later. Ned Kelly walked out of the hotel in his armor. 1880. Granted permission to take his sick wife home. entered the bush. Before long. bucket-like. dead or alive. and assorted friends of the family²had achieved widespread fame for varied brushes with the law. thousands paid a shilling each to hear his sister Kate eulogize his heroic life in a Melbourne theater. the Kelly gang²Ned. "It's gone wrong.the slow moving machinery of land reform. the police set fire to the hotel and burned it to the ground along with three gang members." He was bleeding. where on a Saturday they took three policemen prisoner. Four thousand gathered in protest in the Melbourne Hippodrome. Joe Byrne shot Sherritt at the door of his cabin and rode off to join the rest of the Kelly gang and prepare for battle with the armies of police sure to be sent after them. at least one sister. as the entire area seemed to be hiding or otherwise supporting the Kellys while the police pursued and failed to catch them. The police were sent out by train. The trap was sprung and the noose tightened by Kelly's descending body on the morning of November 11. Later that day. In October. With the night broken by shots and cursing. As defense for the pitched battle to come. while people in the hotel drank. and later returned from the bush heading for the hotel again. he had just ten years after the death of Captain Thunderbolt . Despite a police guard. At Glenrowans. with a slit for eyes. Steve Hart. and Ned's brother Dan Kelly. Then for three more days they held nearly sixty people hostage in the Royal Mail Hotel while Ned dispensed free drinks and dictated to a bank clerk a letter of 7. but not dying. and celebrated the coming victory.000 words justifying his actions against a corrupt society. Ned Kelly was outfitted with a suit of plate armor crafted for him by a local sympathizer. Still defiant. Ten days later they were declared outlaws. Still they eluded capture for over a year. He spoke of his sympathy with "widows and orphans and poor" and threatened the police with a fate "worse than the rust in the wheat in Victoria or the druth of a dry season to the grasshoppers in New South Wales. When the train stopped short of the break in the line. "I will see you there where I go. June 27. That night. Then Aaron Sherritt. as a policeman pulled off his helmet. In the wan light before dawn. cut telegraph lines. This was Sunday. Details are unclear. a friend who was engaged to the sister of Joe Byrne. Ned Kelly and his police escort arrived by special train at Melbourne. Twenty-five years old. he somehow notified the police of the trap. while two thousand more milled in the street outside. unable to get in. During the next few years he and his younger brothers were in and out of jail for horse stealing. turned informer. his mother. he replied to the judge who pronounced his death sentence. Ned Kelly's began when the fifteen-year-old was sentenced to six months in prison for assault. In December they raided a station near Euroa and held twenty-two people captive while they rode into town. In February. in the heart of Kelly country. one man turned traitor. with a reward of 500 pounds on each of their heads." Sympathizers rallied to support a man they considered a hero of the common people and a victim of the tyranny of wealth and privilege. one of the gang. held up the bank and escaped with cash and gold.000 pounds each. 1879 they crossed the Murray River from Victoria into New South Wales to Jerilderie. danced.
some of them "sundowners" who would turn up at a station too late in the day to do any work. beginning just over the mountains not many miles away from the principal cities.placed a capstone on the era of the Australian bushranger. Tom Roberts. the bush just on the other side²Australian wild colonial boys were seldom far from the major cities. between New York City and Cleveland's western suburbs." and left Australia a large population of unlanded employees digging ditches and running fences for the station owners. 200 miles to the north. to Uralla. legendary in Australia. where some were jailed. where a cow is bailed up for milking. are supposed to have been "Such is life. wild-west lawlessness. in the area of gold shipments and prosperous sheep and cattle stations. rampant egalitarianism. roughly. and sixgun law. Occasionally. like Captain Thunderbolt." Parallels with the Wild West of Billy the Kid and Jesse James are easy. The Kelly gang ranged through an area that began only 135 miles from Melbourne and in their raid on Jerilderie they were still less than two hundred miles north of that city. America's Wild West was an isolated area in mid-continent. the bushrangers were an anomaly in a colony distinguished by solid British values. to the settled principles of Anglo-Saxon government. or swagmen on the road in search of their next meal." the outlaw and his men have stopped a stagecoach on a lonely road in hilly terrain where gum trees cast their shadows across the low. The speaker is the outlaw narrator of Robbery Under Arms: . grassy undergrowth and rifles hang at the ready while the gang divests the passengers of their belongings. Captain Thunderbolt carried out many of his exploits from Maitland. and the success of the bushrangers depended on the widespread sympathy of the lower classes who helped them. still only 495 road miles from Sydney²the distance. was determined to avoid the American pattern of revolution. one of the first artists to bring a distinctly Australian flavor to Australian painting. they got as far west as Bourke. and remained stolidly ignorant of their movements when questioned by police inspectors. Other bushrangers worked over the same or similar territory. say²north to Burlington. within twenty miles of Newcastle. not far from Uralla. and where Ned Kelly's supporters rallied to the cause of his freedom. It was as though a New York gang rampaged through the countryside west of Albany and held up a small town more or less on the latitude of Saratoga Springs. shearers and drovers crisscrossing a countryside where they were seldom welcome until they reached their destination. In "Bailed Up. Because of Australia's peculiar geography²the narrow strip of coastal land. It was as though stagecoaches were held up in America's New England in the 1860s by a bandit ranging from just outside Boston²from Concord. Vermont. His last words before the fall. along the road between Armidale and Inverell. These people counted themselves victims of a system that limited land possession by reserving it mostly for the Crown and for a relatively few wealthy "squatters. A colony that had remained loyal to Queen Victoria despite the worldwide fervor of self-determination in 1848 and had extinguished the smoldering fires of revolution at Eureka Stockade in 1854. where it was rumored some came to spend ill-gotten gains. They were not strangers to Sydney and Melbourne. hid them. to the vaunted efficiency of the police and the British judicial and penal systems. Dodge City was more or less 1. and abhorrence of anarchy and revolution. But officialdom was upper class. portrayed Captain Thunderbolt at least twice. The bushranger remains an Australian icon. but expected in the custom of the country that they would be fed and given a place to sleep before they moved on again in the morning. In officialdom's eyes. far from the coastal cities. "In a Corner of the Macintyre" shows Thunderbolt holding off the police in a scene dominated by rocky terrain and gum trees partially reflected in waters of a still creek. respect for the law. renters on hardscrabble spreads threatening to collapse under the weight of dust and debts. Within this system. Both were painted in Thunderbolt territory. the phenomenon of bushranging had a sentimental appeal that remained a part of the Australian character after the bushrangers passed into history. Bailed Up? Rolf Boldrewood explains the term as one taken from the farm.500 miles from New York or San Francisco. tried. and hanged. but flawed. Their continued success was an affront to human decency. the near mountains.
Well. with his old musket or a pair of pistols. The prone figure of Sergeant Kennedy looks like a fallen toy soldier. but the writer seems to miss the point that whatever the square suggests. This is one of a series of Kelly paintings completed by Nolan in the 1940s and 1950s. Captain Thunderbolt and others is a phenomenon perhaps best known outside Australia through "The Wild Colonial Boy. there's another man--perhaps two. who thought he and a few others could withstand the onslaught of a trainload of police. and Kelly remains far from understood outside of Australia. a television set and a kind of torture device. "Kelly's head is depicted as a black square. accompanied by a photograph of the painter and a reproduction of his 1947 Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringy Bark Creek.yer. he's rapped at that second. Some old hand like father. What is more. or else the driver's walking his horses up a steep hill. some one sings out "Bail up. or close alongside of him. and all steady and game to stand a flutter. Then The New York Times ran an obituary. and when he wanted 'em to stop 'Bail up.It was a rum go.' would come a deal quicker and more natural-like to his tongue than "Stand. the other passengers don't thank him--quite the contrary--for drawing the fire on them. or riding along a road.and a rifle in his hand. his eyes grimly open in death. or move ever so little. a shape that suggests an early camera. but you don't get a coach-load like that very often. If the passengers were armed." The coachman sees a strange man in front. The pathos increases with the knowledge that Kelly was no solitary highwayman or even a Robin Hood leading a band of merry men. where Kennedy lies. Just behind. something might be done. protected view of life outside. So it's found better in a general way to give up what they have quietly and not make a fuss about it. Well. I have known men take away a fellow's revolver lest he should get them all into trouble. a toy-like figure with a black square for a head. d--. You don't see them till it's too late. a black cloak that may also be armored. on the other side. especially by Irish singers: . if he's ever so game. bringing a bit more understanding to the Kelly legend and to a painter whose work Newsweek characterized as "a visual poetry practically unequaled in modern art from the any hemisphere. He naturally don't like to be shot. what's any one. which it's not likely to be. He doesn't look like much of an outlaw and would be laughed out of town in Dodge City. You can't see his face. . two slits for eyes. but a man. to do? If he tries to draw a weapon. and he says if any man stirs or lifts a finger he'll give him no second chance. A lonely figure stands with something that looks like a milk pail on his head." The bushranging of Ned Kelly." the Times writes. Kelly faces the viewer. the pail cut open at eye level with a rectangular slit to give the man within a narrow. with a revolver pointed straight at him. striking in their pathos. ." a folksong of the 1860s carried around the world. Images of Ned Kelly abound in Australia. it is literally a piece of armor. you're expected and waited for. perhaps slightly mad. They see you a-coming." Just so. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art showed 27 of his Ned Kelly paintings in the United States for the first time. There stands Ned Kelly. but his eyes shift slightly to the right. wasn't it? The same talk for cows and Christians. and the road party knows the very moment you'll turn up. . if it's a coach. had taken to the bush and tried his hand at sticking up people. When they came near enough of course he'd pop out from behind a tree in a rock. "In most of these paintings. Just at the worst pinch or at a turn. There's a log or something across the road. Two years after Nolan's death. The speaker is the same outlaw quoted above: Suppose you're in a coach. He can only shoot one man. I don't remember seeing his image outside of Australia until 1992 when the Australian painter Sidney Nolan died. There's another man covering the passengers in the body of the coach." seen from the perspective of the passengers. and spent all his mornings in the cowyard. even if his aim is good. That's how things get stuck into the talk of a new country." Boldrewood also gives a word picture that nicely suggests some of the emotions of Roberts' "Bailed Up. as had been assigned to a dairy settler. and he pulls up.
like Thunderbolt he dies in a shoot-out: Surrender now. In a place called Castlemaine. You see we're three to one. We'll cross the mountains high. Together we will plunder. His mother's pride and joy. At the early age of sixteen years. Surrender in the Queen's high name. And fondly did his parents love Their wild colonial boy. Bound down with iron chains! Like Kelly and Thunderbolt.There was wild colonial boy. and after refusing to surrender. he soon takes to bushranging with a Robin Hood stamp²"He robbed the rich and helped the poor"²and explicitly or implicitly the song echoes the politics of Eureka Stockade: So ride with me. For we scorn to live in slavery. Together we will die. in others sent as a convict. Either way. the wild colonial boy is finally run down. said . Jack left his native home. Jack drew two pistols from his belt. my hearties. We'll wander through the valleys And gallop o'er the plains. "Inclined" in some versions. but not surrender. I'll fight. He proudly waved them high. He was his father's dearest hope. And to Australia's sunny shore He was inclined to roam. You are a plundering son. Jack Dolan. Jack Dolan was his name. He was born and bred in Ireland.
romances of adventure and hairbreadth escapes. he was brought to Australia at five on a ship loaded with convicts his father carried from Portsmouth. I'm twenty-nine years old. . This is not to suggest that Robbery Under Arms was written in imitation of Huckleberry Finn. but none remains as interesting as Robbery Under Arms. however. has turned boyish outlaw. I can ride anything--anything that ever was lapped in horse-hide--swim like a musk duck. he adopted his pen name Boldrewood from Scott's Marmion and added Rolf as manly and Norse. and one. ballads. in spite of the² well. Huck has taken the measure of his society. Born in London in 1826 as Thomas Alexander Brown. That is not "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." but it's not far from it. Dick's adult story. and has been miraculously saved from the consequences of his rebellion. who considered him one among a number of fine Australian writers. is more somber than Huck's boyish one. or the naked mauleys. As I lift myself now I can feel the muscle swell on my arm like a cricket ball. It is as though Huck and Tom grew up to experience their wildest fantasies. Boldrewood was twice removed by name from his narrator. He had been briefly at Ballarat during the gold rush featured in The Fortunes of Richard Mahony.' mere and marshland. Australian Town and Country serialized seven of Boldrewood's novels in the 1870s. I been there before. who came to witness that gold rush. The son of an Irish sea captain. Like Twain. Published in London in three volumes in 1888. and track like a Myall blackfellow. Part adventure story. and that's all about it. give him a loving mother and sister. he began to supplement his income by writing. and other popular fictions of outlawry. part documentary. in spite of everything. Boldrewood's genius shines in his ability to generate from such sources a book that both reflects and comments on its society in ways that still compel attention. Fourteen more novels followed before Boldrewood's death in 1915. I don't want to blow--not here. 1883. and thirteen stone weight. "The Squatter's Dream. Most things that a man can do I'm up to. the antecedents are English and continental novels of rogues and picaros. as did a second. he became a squatter at seventeen and was licensed to occupy land of "about 50.000 words between July 1. For Boldrewood's writing. it begins: My name's Dick Marston. and newspaper and oral accounts of the exploits of actual Australian outlaws." a cattle and horse station in western Victoria. Fifteen years later. dime novels. six feet in my stocking soles.000 words for the single-volume Macmillan edition of 1889 that brought it widespread popularity. hill and dale. part moral tract. where in 1871 he met Anthony Trollope. Sharing mid-nineteenth-century rural backgrounds and minimal education. Less known outside of Australia is Rolf Boldrewood's novel Robbery Under Arms.000 acres of 'wood and wold. any road--but it takes a good man to put me on my back. Huckleberry Finn and Dick Marston each narrate personal stories in the vernacular of their time and place. There is nothing like it in American or English literature of the nineteenth century. Educated in Sydney and Melbourne. and turn his rapscallion father into a transported thief who leads his son astray and you have essential ingredients for Robbery Under Arms.' but that ain't no matter. Sydney-side native. it was cut by 40. Still. In debt by the late 1860s and early 1870s. Robbery Under Arms ran in The Sydney Mail in weekly installments that accumulated to 270. so they say.That wild colonial boy. and appointed police magistrate at Gulgong." was revised and published in book form as Ups and Downs: A Story of Australian Life in 1878. which failed. or stand up to me with the gloves." Send Huck to Australia. 1882 and August 11. it is a considerable achievement. he reckons he's got "to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest. By the end of Huckleberry Finn. for it was published as a serial in Australia while Mark Twain was still writing his masterpiece. a monument to the era of the bushrangers and one of the gems of Australian literature. Pretty strong and active with it. because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and civilize me and I can't stand it. he sold this property and bought a sheep station. involving robbery and death. Narrated as a confession by a convict awaiting the gallows.
Although Dick Marston narrates from a prison cell. My parents were poor. and misdirect the police. shelter its members. and Billy the Boy (his name an echo of Billy the Kid. Much later. . Was that justice? Any man's sense will tell him it wasn't." Stubbornly independent and unrepentant. . but he will not: "I swore I'd be revenged on 'em all when they locked me up and sent me out here for a paltry hare. Apart from these. It's been them and me for . I was thrashed and starved. and sweethearts constitute a group of otherwise law-abiding citizens who will not betray their sons. he remains defiant. and social levels. who range through each of the other circles in pursuit of the outlaws. but respectable. Is Mr. After a few pages of introductory prison flourishes. because I was a blind. Starlight going to turn parson?" He expects Dick and Jim to follow in his own independence. travelers. ignorant dog when I was young." says Starlight. . "That's all very fine . but it seemed it was the business of the Government people to gaol me. and couldn't know more than one of them four-year-old colts out there that knocks his head agin the yard when he's roped. and half the time for doing what I didn't know was wrong. after their lives draw nearer to a menacing close. ." "I'm afraid you're right. and when the mail failed to arrive one day they "Wired to the postmaster at the township to let us know how 'Starlight' had got on. some a lot less sympathetic. Dick begins with his parents: Well. and iron me. and deserves all we gets. and falls backward and breaks his neck if he ain't watched. "How I Wrote Robbery Under Arms" tells how station hands gathered to have each installment read to them when the Saturday mail arrived. Starlight. as had never been taught nothing. Family. boyhood friends.Like Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. chained and flogged after that. Other outlaws. he draws a reader into a sympathy that lies mostly with the outlaws. tradesmen. friends. That's what they always say. he'd been a poacher in England. locked up in a gaol. horsemen and women gathered on racing days. there are the police. "All of us as takes to the cross does it with our eyes open. Finally. governor. the genius of the group. . There is an extensive representation of mostly honest people²diggers on the gold-fields. Whose business was it to have learned me better? That I can't rightly say. . and most major scenes are reported from their perspective. and he will not warn them away. Petty lawbreakers like innkeepers and barmaids profit from the band's depredations. . who died in 1881). let's see. and my mother was as good a soul as ever broke bread. Starlight's half-caste follower. range in and out of the circle of the central band. These include Dick and his father. he listens to Starlight's gentle admonishment "if I'd a brace of fine boys like those of my own I'd hang myself before I'd drag them into the pit after myself" and responds with a "very dark and dangerous" look. sincerely regrets some of his actions. and stagecoach drivers²standing apart from the outlaws and mostly unconscious of their presence until they are robbed by them. The major characters are outlaws. Warrigal. and flog me. and wouldn't have taken a shilling's worth that wasn't her own if she'd been starving. . and knowed nothing . Jim Marston. the characters of the book may be schematized as concentric circles spreading from the lawlessness at the center to the respect for law at the furthest reaches. But as for father. and got sent out for it. and expresses support for conventional moral truths. squatters and their wives. station hands. earlier in life?" "Why?" he replies. the embodiment of the law itself. carry its messages. After serving his time and taking up a farm that barely keeps his family fed. Early in the book he tells his sons they can draw back from outlawry. Dick's brother. and lovers to the police. a Lincolnshire man he was. The whole presents a Dickensian amplitude of names. bankers. "but why didn't these moral ideas occur to you . Boldrewood reached an audience of Australians hungry for national definition and readers abroad eager for tales of a land rapidly becoming fabled. . . his parents were poor." The 1889 edition was reprinted thirty times in the next half-century. occupations. the elder Marston continues to nurse his sense of injury.
" and has witnessed the guillotine fall "more than once. Dick wonders about himself and Jim: ³if we couldn't help it. they meet Starlight. cut loose from him. who have hated the breed and suffered by them." their father tells them. What's the most surprising part of it is that men like father. Under no illusion about the legality of what they are doing or how their father has lived in his absences while they were growing up. once and for all. and sudden goldfield wealth set against widespread lower-classes of transported felons who failed to prosper when their terms were up. they consider the action provisional. and he has a right to square it in his own way. education. Tell your father you won't come. Malaya. . "I have my own reasons for leading the life I do. and chance remains an inescapable and unpredictable player. He has been to America. Your father had a long account to square with society. "If my people had let me go into the army. wrong choices can be easily cast in a sympathetic light. ." he says in a moment of self-revelation. New Zealand. and class divisions²aristocracies of family. as I begged and prayed them to do." has lived with "slaves and wild chiefs. . of which I foresee the end as plainly as if it were written in a book before me. too. when we go. fight for them. ." He rides into Terrible Hollow badly wounded by a policeman's bullet. and come to the gallows-foot at last. But somehow a man that's born and bred a gentleman will always be different from other men to the end of the world. they couldn't be in the convict days. . In a secret valley called "Terrible Hollow. and never come back here again. shearers. . Starlight is an edicated man. land ownership. or whether we can go just a little way and look at the far-off hills and new rivers. Everybody's supposed to be free and equal now. and tens of thousands of diggers who didn't strike it rich²Boldrewood makes clear that choices are limited. of course. At Terrible Hollow. But for you lads . Starlight has taken a pseudonym to avoid disgracing his family. economic. "it might have been all the other way. can't help having a curious liking and admiration for them. You'd better drown yourselves comfortably at once than take to this cursed trade. Rainbow²and appears to the young Marstons as adventure personified. has seen "fifty men killed before breakfast. whether he likes it or not. station hands. shed their blood. At this point. they participate partly for the adventure and partly out of family loyalty. and die for them . with no future commitments. Dick reflects: We don't often know in this world sometimes whether we are turning off along a road where we shall never come back from. to clear off home. and if I had a dozen lives they'd all have gone down the same road! Much of the novel turns on questions of choice. . . for many readers the most interesting figure in the book. my advice to you is. They'll follow them like dogs. settlers on marginal tracts. landless drovers. An English gentleman. if it was in our blood? It seems like it." they assist in branding the calves and changing the brands on the older animals.´ The boys begin their cattle duffing when their father comes to them at night with a mob of three or four hundred cattle and needs their help to drive them onward. Always a gentleman. he advises them to desert their father and return home. "Mr." he said. and come home safe. accompanied by Warrigal and carried to safety by his incomparable horse. and yet it's hard lines to think a fellow must grow up and go on the cross in spite of himself." Specifics are scarce. prompting Dick to reflect on the class-consciousness of Australians: I don't think there's any place in the world where men feel a more out-and-out respect for a gentleman than in Australia. and must run my own course. but in a country of sharp social. .it since I got my liberty.
Starlight and Dick are tracked down. nor plough. Although Boldrewood's version is less elaborate than the historical one. All together. he wrote. and then a gold shipment at Eugowra Rocks. They rob the Goulbourn Mail. ." says Dick.000 cattle. which. . There's the long spells of drought when nothing can be done by young or old. under the same circumstances as related in the book. there wouldn't be anything like the cross-work that there is in Australia. . Starlight and the Marstons attempt to flee to Queensland to take ship to America or some other foreign shore. once a chap shows that he's given up cross doings and means to go straight for the future." Dick writes: . where they hold at bay a half dozen troopers and kill a sergeant. that we could make more money in one night by sticking up a coach or a bank than in any other way in a year. ". For a time the members of the gang seek honest livings on the goldfields. they break free and return to their old life. New South Wales. Perhaps not. nor sow. the people of the country will always lend him a helping hand . if it weren't for the horse-flesh part of it. then a small-town bank. and the stock dyin' by inches before your eyes. Sometimes for months you can't work in the garden. the bank robbery resembles Ned Kelly's raid on Jerilderie. although modeled on a cliff-surrounded valley in the Great Dividing Range in New England." The gold shipment robbery at Eugowra Rocks recalls a famous robbery there in 1862. ambitious. As their first major exploit. to live out his twelveyear prison sentence. was described "to me personally. they affront the police by disguising Starlight's famous horse and winning the Handicap Stakes at Turon with him. The siege of the house. for "in any part of Australia. when someone recognizes a prize bull from England in the lot. Without completing their sentences. . is located in the book in the same range west of Sydney. the fun and hard-riding and tracking and the rest of it. which they drive several hundred miles and sell in Adelaide. he will attempt a new life in Queensland. the gang rides to a station on the other side of the Divide and rounds up 1. The series of long episodes that follows is punctuated by returns to their secret refuge. It lies partly between that and the dry weather. or else go out and watch the grass witherin' and the water dryin' up." Boldrewood wrote. the Marston boys enjoy for a while the society of Melbourne. entering manhood." Hunted more and more closely. . nor do anything useful to keep the devil out of your heart. but don't quite make it. Boldrewood prided himself that his "dramatic incidents" were taken from the history of Australian bushranging and "actually did take place. They lay seige to the home of a rich squatter and hold the owner for ransom. win the 'big money' at Gulgong. Married.But the boys are products of the bush. most of the novel takes place in the 1840s. . When Starlight recovers. Only Dick survives." He said the theft of over a thousand cattle for sale in Adelaide had happened in Queensland. but the 1851 discovery of gold makes bushranging more profitable than ever. Unfortunately. . Robbery Under Arms presents an impressive panorama of New South Wales and Victoria at mid-century. and imprisoned. From the proceeds of the cattle sale in Adelaide. and bored. energetic." To this point. Dick and Starlight's status as escaped "long sentence men" helps turn their gang from cattle duffing to bushranging: "When it was all boiled down it came to this. the gang is ready to leave Terrible Hollow." . captured. For excitement. "I don''t know whether cattle-duffing was ever done in New South Wales before on such a large scale. "I say it again. "I saw 'Rainbow'. with the theft discovered as in the book through identification of a prize bull. much after the fashion of the tale. Only sit at home and do nothing.
. it takes place in areas only a little earlier threatened by the Kelly gang and the fictional bushrangers of Robbery Under Arms. Furphy was in his sixtieth year in 1903 when the book was published. still miles from Sydney and Melbourne. and the haves and have-nots of society still share unequally the rain and river-fed green grasslands of spring and the brown stubble. and nine years after its publication he died." After that he failed in various attempts at independence. as that engaging problem has presented itself to me. Again I shut my eyes while I open the book at random. three years after the death of Ned Kelly. The bush is still here. And with Irish wit. an Irishman distrustful of the English and blessed with the traditional gift of gab: Furphy's is an early example of the strong Irish contribution to Australian literature that more recently includes Thomas Keneally and Peter Carey (interviewed on television while we were there. I shut my eyes and take up one of the little volumes. have passed beyond the ken of today's readers. A few squatters are beginning to prosper from their immense sheep and cattle ranges. in southwest New South Wales. but in this country prosperity and poverty tread the same ground²at least they do when poverty is allowed to tread it. the 9th of September. Although most of his references lie within the common stock of titles familiar in his time. and for some readers perhaps impenetrable celebration of Aussie underdogdom. It is the week beginning with Sunday. Toward the end of the nineteenth century.Joseph Furphy's Such Is Life picks up the Australian story when the age of the bushrangers has just ended. as Australia marched toward Federation and embraced ideals of freedom and equality. an inept storyteller distinguished by a comic failure to embue his apparently mindless tale with any but the most arbitrary signs of order and coherence. Published by the Sydney Bulletin as by "Tom Collins. erudite. some will surely read like this one. during which time he wrote Such Is Life. Victoria for work that supported him for the next two decades. and allusion. with his fame yet to come. The bullock drivers and drovers who populate the novel see little prosperity except on the stations where the owners erect fences to bar the passage and economic well-being of the lower orders of society. wind-swept dust." As a result. nose-thumbing. in his mid-teens he "cleared from home as good Australians do. A lover of literature. If any man can write a book. and raging bush fires of mid-summer. All is chance. Collins is a bullock driver. "Unemployed at last!" Tom begins. I purpose taking certain entries from my diary. Keneally said his work arises from an Irish imagination tempered in Australia). a lover of books. Set in 1883 in the Riverina. Furphy took up and mocked a sober challenge. Born near Melbourne in 1843 as the son of Irish immigrants. parody. although a much less accessible one than Robbery Under Arms." the novel purports to be based on extracts from the writer's diary. Taking the last words of Ned Kelly as its title. it is a funny." Furphy's response was the creation of Tom Collins. It proves to be the edition of 1883. It is another Australian classic. including seven years as a bullock driver²a teamster carrying goods for others²in the Riverina. A drought in 1883 put him finally out of business and sent him to his brother's foundry in Shepparton. 1883-1884. his teenage son wrote to his grandmother "father reads nothing but shakspere everybody carries books but they are yallow novels. Such Is Life combines the world of the bullock driver with an astonishing level of literary quotation." Working with him during his last years as a teamster. his life changed little. many of whom may also lack his narrator's easy familiarity with Shakespeare and Scott. some. October 9 through March 29. like Oliver Wendell Holmes's Elsie Venner. The book found only a small readership. and for a couple of years cultivated the art of living on half-a-crown a week on worn-out goldfields. This will afford to the observant reader a fair picture of Life. and amplifying these to the minutest detail of occurrence or conversation. he once said "in my untruthful moments I claim to know off by heart all the Poetry in the English language. verbally ingenious. The Bulletin famously assured its subscribers that "Every man can write one book.
a dull day. Collins has failed to recognize that Alf Jones is not a man but a woman. she is following the direction taken by her . whilst the latter is relieved of the (to him) impossible task of investing prosaic prose with romance. to March 28th and 29th. But let me not hear any small witticism to the further effect that its story is a tale told by a vulgarian. But soft! What light through yonder chapters breaks? Tom Collins's return to Alf Jones in the last chapter picks up the story of a mysterious boundary rider introduced in the previous chapter as Nosey Alf." In this last chapter. when he comes to Friday. cannot understand their own strengths and failings. and failures of recognition in a book where people fail to come forth to others as their true selves.000 sheep: Now. Rabbit. A man dies within sight of the station that would have saved him if his vision had not been damaged by sandy blight and if he had not been mistaken for a sundowner. The problem arises from the night of the 10th." he laments. he will press on with the plan. introduced earlier. October 9. Febuary. She has chosen to live in the bush disguised as a man. including one Alf Jones. he now decides he can give a broader portrayal of life by covering more time. named. "Confused identity seemed to be in the air. There the book ends. and a generally hap-hazard economy with poetical justice. The thread of narrative being thus purposely broken. Therefore. he decides he must change his plan. with her tragic story unrecognized. Its last two sentences link Ned Kelly and Shakespeare: . one for each day of the week. when he camped with six drovers and 3. take him where it will. "like what you'd hear in fo'c'sl.Such is life. Tuesday.Fifty pages later. Bottler. my fellow-mummers²just like a poor player. resides napoleonically with myself" to change from March 9th. no one of these short and simple analyses can have any connection with another²a point on which I congratulate the judicious reader and the no less judicious writer. and are unable to see their friends and acquaintances except in the light of their private imaginings. In Chapter III. for the former is thereby tacitly warned against any expectation of plot or denouement. A child lost in the bush dies steps away from her rescuers. however. Still. "impelled me to fix on the 9th. As he writes the last words of the book. January. and the remark reminds us of the many confusions. signifying nothing. full of slang and blanky. The chapter turns out to be the most broadly humorous of the book as Collins loses his clothes crossing the Murray River into Victoria and suffers a humiliating series of nude encounters that put him into newspaper headlines as a "LUNATIC AT LARGE. disguises. Nicknamed for a disfigured face which is generally hidden under a hand or a crape veil. November 9. that bluffs and feints his hour upon the stage. . although "nothing" an acquaintance says. In leaving for Queensland. resting until nightfall. Only when he comes to March does Collins use the "power" that he now announces "in the nature of things. he will skip a month and pick up the same numbered day. ." The chapters continue. more or less as promised at the beginning. Parson. above all other days of the month?" Now he understands he should have looked ahead in the diary before making a commitment that brings him to an adventure he would rather not recount. will agree with me as to the impossibility of getting the dialogue of such dramatis personae into printable form. dates that allow the reader to meet again some characters. anyone who has listened for four hours to the conversation of sheep drovers. In addition. Dingo. and then cheapens down to mere nonentity. "What fatality. Nosey Alf is a gifted violinist with a wonderful singing voice. Collins learns that Alf has left the vicinity and was last seen heading for western Queensland. he discovers an unforeseen problem. when he has proceeded no further than that first Sunday and a bit of the following day." we are told. Splodger. each a month later and always on the 9th: December. respectively. and Hairy-toothed Ike. acting out a man's role. and so secured against any disappointment. with seven chapters.
but although it continued to make travel difficult or impossible within Australia. significant world changes. a flight that seemed seemed emblematic of changes in Southeast Asia that are having an inevitable effect on Australia. Cathy Pacific was founded right after World War II by an American and an Aussie who flew together over the hump to Burma in the early days of the war. At the customs checkpoint in Sydney. we found out when the crowd diverged into two lines and most of the Orientals joined the line for holders of Australian passports. then continued to Hong Kong with many empty seats. in 1989. the phonetic spellings. We visitors to down under in our shorter line were mostly Caucasians from America or Europe. especially when they are coupled with his gift for mimicry. Collins is a know-it-all who knows nothing of importance to the book he writes. who delivered it to her wholly unaware of its importance.estranged lover." "I'm a quiet. with Oriental stewardesses who spoke at least six languages. When we returned we flew on Cathay Pacific. drovers. Such Is Life is thickly spread with the dialects of the many kinds of Australian of the period. He is also a born philosopher. as do the dialect passages. Dorothy and Phil were happy to have us back. On one occasion Collins passes himself off to a Scotsman as another Scot." Confused by Collins's manner. Literature is never far from his narration: he quotes Shakespeare while riding a bucking horse. Its panoramic vision of one man's Australia provides convincing insights into the lives of itinerant workers²bullock drivers. and although he sees small causes and connections everywhere. turning down an invitation to the festivities when advised that there could be trouble in that exceedingly jittery time). the Australian government in Canberra finally announced that it was once more safe for Australians to travel to China. We went out on Qantas. but he can be vastly entertaining in his various shifts and disguises. throwing back at him a dialect as heavy as his own. and records the thoughts of his pipe as it ruminates back at him. The news from Europe more or less on the day of our return was that the Hungarian Communist Party had voted itself out of existence. most with stories to tell. it didn't materially disrupt overseas travel. A few days before our return. Dubai. The departure board at the Hong Kong airport showed Cathay Pacific Airlines flights leaving for Bahrain. Our plane left Sydney. and philosophical speculations that Furphy gives to Collins make the book difficult to read. predominantly Cockneys and Irishmen. San Francisco. His overriding theme is cause and effect. The inattentions. digressions. hoping to catch a glimpse that would assure them we were all right in that city of recent repressions (actually we had left Beijing a few days earlier. he misses the big ones. the connections between characters and events carefully crafted by Furphy. From a small beginning.) good. We were not surprised to find that many of our fellow passengers were Oriental. . Still. sometimes with the same departure times and generally no more than fifteen minutes apart all day long. a reader may miss. necessity and free will. as he does. agreeable sort o' (person). stopped at Melbourne to discharge many Vietnamese from overseas. Sydney and numerous other destinations. Spring had come to Australia and with it. The pilots' strike was entering its second month. boundary riders²at a time when the Australian character of the twentieth century seemed already taking shape somewhere in the space between pommy and bushranger. Visitors from Home In late September we flew to Hong Kong and from there took a train to Guangzhou for two weeks in China. it expanded exponentially with an infusion of British money and in 1989 it flew to destinations all over the world. knowledge received from Collins. and the habit of obscuring profanities with parentheses: "You're no (adj. but wondered why so many were headed for Australia. A few weeks earlier. a contemplative man who smokes and thinks. They had glued themselves to their television set to watch the Fortieth Anniversary celebrations of Communist rule in Beijing. with no end in sight. and for the reader who sticks with it. it does more than confuse. the book does more than entertain. London.
Margaret Thatcher raised hackles with her stance on South Africa. with the shape of our Michigan wolf spiders. it seemed that the crushing defeat of the students at Tiananmen Square the previous June represented only a temporary setback in a worldwide movement toward fulfillment of democratic aspirations. as Australian TV shifted frequently from good news in Europe to more problematic news closer to home. it seemed they were gathering to honor the American Halloween party Alison and Suzanne were arranging for their friends. Soon the Berlin Wall came down. About an hour after others thought an agreement had been reached on sanctions against the apartheid government. Opening the car door one day in the garage under our house. One morning I found one near my shoe on the bedroom floor. Chinese people in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest the "favored" status granted to the Vietnamese at a time when many mainland Chinese sought ways to get out. and hairier.000 East Germans found their way to that new gateway to the West. chrysanthemums massed in color. I feel sorry for the 48. leaves turning red and yellow and then brown² we were beginning a period of warming. Thousands more followed. Bob Hawke. we were assured by a balding friend who had suffered one. These were all at least two inches end to end and sometimes closer to three.Hungary had officially opened its borders. The birds are quite large and can do considerable damage." Upstaged in his own hemisphere. On September 11. Another night when we returned late I went in to switch on the porch light and found an ugly specimen on the middle of the screen in the door I had just passed through. but we don't see them so big or evil looking. In October. she replied "If it's 48 to one. A cholera epidemic in September forced their removal from one island of detention to another. Spring weather in Australia had begun even before we left for China. It dropped to the floor and scurried under the car. so yesterday's 68 was no fluke. and should be covered²but not with white hats. many to be returned to their homeland under policies supported by the United States. newspapers and TV began to carry warnings about magpie attacks during mating season. with an occasional hot breath of summer. it appeared. A magpie attack is no fun. Generally they were black. she issued a statement saying that Britain did not agree on that matter with the other 48 members of the Commonwealth. where I failed to find it again. but heading in a different direction. Meanwhile. each bit of news from abroad was accompanied by Australian commentary suggestive of the commonwealth's pride in its open society and its manifold and widespread freedoms. Probably they were not deadly Australian funnel webs. On September 10 we slept without electric blankets for the first time since our arrival. Instead of a gradual cooling off²a cold snap in the air. Vietnamese boat people remained isolated in crowded. At this time the weather in Newcastle crossed with that in Ann Arbor. September days in Australia reminiscent of the finest September days at home. Australia's Prime Minister. at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kuala Lumpur. barring entrance for Barbara and the girls. I noted in my journal: 72 degrees in the house this morning. darker. One night I killed two near the door on the outside front of the house. In mid-September. and the brown grasses of winter giving way to lush greens with jacarandas bursting into startling blue bloom above them. and within the first few hours after that historic midnight 6. Although they were probably only coming out of winter dormancy. but bigger. Australia. In Ann Arbor we are not so anxious about spiders. The representative from Zimbabwe found her behavior "unacceptable. In an extraordinary season of hope. unsanitary conditions near Hong Kong. it was suggested. In October the spiders suddenly became more active. This one I dispatched with a slipper that I carried out the side door and around to the front. I surprised a big one sequestered in the space between door and frame. Bald heads." To this and other objections. which are also inflammatory. As one astonishing image after another circumnavigated the globe by satellite. but we remained unsure and dinner conversations with friends continued to . squashed it. was scathing in his commentary on her behavior: one sign among many of Australia's increasing impatience with its relationship to the Mother country. and was confirmed in the wisdom of emptying shoes before putting them on. and. Not all political news was so inspiring. The best defense if attacked is to walk away quickly and quietly. are inflammatory.
I released it unharmed outside. Most had not developed an English that sounded Australian in accent and vocabulary. She flew nearly nonstop from Minnesota. For our visit they brought in their extended family. By the mid-1970s. later. although the youngest spoke with many Aussie touches and could perhaps say "no worries. neither British nor Australian. having left the British Commonwealth in 1961 and determined to pursue its policy of apartheid. Through Ky. Politicians and social scientists were fond of the metaphor "mosaic" for the developing national identity. a relative of the American black widow. Ky. showing itself a small lizard. while the children grew up in Australia. A woman of iron. her brother and her sister²immigrants from Africa at about the same time. Other than spiders. at the amount of beer and wine drunk by native Australians. but hesitated as it scampered away. Television continued to remind us that Australia is a changing country. South Africa. one would have to come down on the pommy side.include unwanted spider encounters. for Kathryn. left the plane in Hawaii only long enough to stretch her legs while it refueled. that was still flying despite the strike. Rhodesia was attempting to sort out the many difficulties on its way to becoming Zimbabwe. The two kept in touch by correspondence as that girl married a South African she met at the University of Capetown and came with others of her family to Australia in the 1970s. Ky had served as a host in an international exchange program that brought a teenage girl named Marilyn from Rhodesia to northern Minnesota. spring brought us no unwanted visitors. Aeropelican. and had not been moved to write an ode on the wonders of nature. With spring came Barbara's Aunt Ky from Minnesota and. Theirs was a pleasant home in an expensive neighborhood of a suburb of North Sydney. Frequent programs in support of multiculturalism emphasized the contributions of ethnic minorities. she travels with a back broken many years ago when thrown from a horse frightened by a bear in Minnesota. Within the house indications of Jewish culture . but to consider the question is to become aware how complicated some old distinctions. have become. cleared customs. The rest spoke an international colonial English. vital to the Australian sense of identity. a time when life in Rhodesia and South Africa was becoming uncomfortable for many who shared their ethnicity and political convictions. There had been immigrant adjustments. her husband. Laura. a lawyer in Africa. was becoming increasingly isolated from the world community. was making up for a missed visit with us over twenty years earlier in Scotland. multicultural society. After casting off British rule and declaring itself a republic. with all of the older ones²Marilyn and her parents. and boarded the first small plane up the coast to Newcastle²on a small commuter airline. We put Ky on a train to Marilyn's on a Saturday. like the accent. when reaching into a cricket bag. Ky brought us together with Jews from Rhodesia and South Africa as once again in New South Wales we were struck by how small the world has become. easy to understand but difficult to place. five of six inches long. A poet friend had been bitten by a red-back spider. One morning I reached to pick up a brown leaf lying against the wall on the carpet near our front entry. landed in Sydney. Marilyn's father still had a Rhodesian accent that we found sometimes difficult to understand. from California. Australia had already begun its push toward an open. on the other hand. had to study three more years to qualify to practice in Australia. Marilyn's husband. and added that fifteen years later they remained astonished. like us. not far from the Taronga Park Zoo. our oldest daughter. and drove down the next day to spend the afternoon with the family before bringing her back. we met our first recent immigrants to Australia. Twenty years before. After trapping it without difficulty. The drinking habit. they had not yet acquired. The night intruder that earlier slipped under our side door appeared to have left the vicinity or been stymied by my block of wood. It seemed their family life does not revolve around religion. They had done well in fifteen years in Australia. They said that when they first arrived they were astonished. although they observe Jewish holidays and teach the children their heritage²how much social and historical and how much religious²we remained uncertain. mate" or "too right" with no sense of self-consciousness. Drawing a distinction between pommy and Aussie for this family.
the man who bought our car when we were ready to leave²in short. and tanned. In mid-October. and Italian restaurants. waiters and kitchen staff were long-term Aussies. we finally relinquished all hope of a lecture trip to Townsville. with the pilots' strike looking toward its third month. first-generation college students. the only ethnic Australians we met were in Chinese. or Leeds. The Outback. our travel agent at Qantas on Hunter Street. We hoped to return to Australia at a time when travel would be easier. . Because this was apparently typical of most fields in most universities in Australia. the proprietor of the Rusa Deer Park. the waiter at the Sizzler Restaurant who wanted our opinion of the surfing waves in Michigan. however. the husband and wife who ran the Holiday Inn in Byron Bay. blond. the meat was lamb chops and sausage. In contrast to the faculty. almost everyone we came to know even briefly outside the university²all appeared to be well-settled Aussies who displayed no evidence of recent immigration. had a Ph. but there was no pork in the sausage and no shrimp on the barbie. as Ky did from Sydney to Newcastle. new positions were advertised worldwide. Ayer's Rock. In Byron Bay. but we didn't get to know them. Alice Springs. the brother of the man we rented our house from and who served as house agent. Canadian by birth.D. There were no pommies among them. from those convinced of Australian academic inferiority. Phil and Dorothy. our fellow gem fossickers in Inverell. Outside. the Avis manager and his staff at Nine Ways.were few. with accompanying visit to the Great Barrier Reef. the woman owner-host at the Mount View Winery. The university was different. with home-grown scholars competing for appointment against the Oxford and Cambridge graduates who used to take the positions as a matter of cours. we had neighbors rumored to be Germans by way of Canada. On the other hand. and all hints of national origins other than Great Britain had been subsumed in their general Australianess. I began list of things we would not see in Australia: The Great Barrier Reef. Massachusetts. the obvious gap between the universities and the communities they serve had created political pressures to increase the native Australian presence within Australian faculties. This movement met resistance. the couple who developed our photographs at the yarn shop in the Junction. the owner and helpers at our local automobile repair shop. programs initiated to bolster Australian pride. from the University of Buffalo. the result was that junior professors were often Australian born. The rain forests of Queensland and the Northern Territory. increasingly. One. On Macquarie Street. and. Everyone assured us the situation was as unprecedented as reported by news commentators and confirmed by politicians and industrial and labor leaders. None in our class in Contemporary American Literature were recent immigrants. all the winery owners and hosts generally. In practice. On a daily basis. The scheme of making our way up the coast in short hops in small local planes. and the distinction between pommies and dinkum Aussies continued as a strong undercurrent in the discussion. Still. Marilyn and family were among the few recent immigrants we met outside of our academic circle. In the Mucho Mexican Restaurant we frequented in the Junction. on the barbie. Senior professors in the English Department were mostly British by birth or trained at Oxford. Cambridge. handsome. seemed impractical. Indian. the Mobil station owner in Tamworth. Strong sentiment existed for filling new university openings with home-grown scholars from the advanced research institutes and Ph. our students at Newcastle were mostly working-class. there was the restaurant owner from Burlington. the man I bought our car from. against scholars from the United States and Canada.D. although some in other classes were. and some had earned advanced degrees at Australian universities rather than foreign ones.
A few days before she left. After October 25when we received the first heavy rain we had seen in two months. A bandicoot. Canberra. Queenslanders get fined or sent to jail for possessing cane toad juice. Melbourne. The Nullarbor Plain. Spiders big enough to throw golf balls out of their holes. A swagman. and they would soon cover its twenty-foot height. A purple-ringed octopus or poisonous stone fish in the wild. Sheep shearing. An Aboriginal birthing stone. . About this time. or whatever else tries to eat them. birds. day-wandering wombat. A billy boiling in a billabong. A gum leaf band. Duckbill platypuses. the immediate danger of fire seemed past. cats. Bird-catching spiders. Because some people boil them and drink the juice to achieve a hallucinogenic high. Some Queensland people keep them as pets. Rabbit hunting with ferrets and nets. the "white feller's burrow. had begun to spread its spectacular flowers. and Darwin. Adelaide. We drove Ky to the airport in Sydney on October 22 and returned six days later to pick up our daughter Laura.Coober Pedy. Cane Toads: An Unnatural History. A thousand other places with Aboriginal names even more strange than Canberra to ears of Americans from places with Native American Names auch as Michigan and Massachusetts. with no enemies. Instead of turning belly up and dying peacefully when attacked. we wondered about flooding in low-lying regions. our interest in Queensland was intensified by a television documentary. Perth. they have become pest themselves. Aboriginal sand paintings. we took Ky to visit Seal Rocks with the thermometer climbing into the mid-eighties." where opal miners live mostly underground to escape the heat that in summer can remain for long periods between 115 and 128 degrees Fahrenheit. completely brown and dead-looking only a couple of weeks before when other trees were fully leaved out. but others bash them with iron pipes kept at hand for the purpose. or swerve their cars to mash them on the highways. A blind. the capital city. By this time the rains had come. Queensland has placed them on its controlled substances list. a hand's breadth or more in size. The hallucinogenic cane toads of Queensland. with an Aboriginal name said to mean "meeting place" although those who meet there do not speak the language of its name. exuding under stress a toxic substance from glands at the sides of their heads. Chuck Berry at the Cardiff Workers' Club. Introduced from Hawaii in 1935 to help control the greyback beetles that infest sugar canes. and the brown grass was everywhere turning to green as spring came on apace. the toads kill snakes. The jacaranda in our back yard.
much like those we observed on the way up. with canopy trees rising high above an undergrowth of ferns and vines. the steep sides of hills cut out sun and wind sufficiently to conserve the moisture needed to sustain a rain forest. two or three inches in diameter. There were no holes to indicate attack by predators. generally under the protection of rocks. None of us could resist the temptation. we crept through the rocks to a flat surface where the hill rose in a cliff at our backs. it remains impressive. Higher. and brushed the ferns of the forest floor. a nature preserve in the mountains north of Newcastle. At the bottom of the declivity. captures the run-off from the hills and opens at one point into a clear pool. about four feet high. it tempted Tarzan swings to the brink of the cliff and around to safe footing on a flat place slightly below. Laura particularly wanted to go to Queensland for the rain forests. to the Forest of Tranquility at Askania Park. It is cut through with a walking trail that takes an hour and a half to two hours to complete. we wondered whether these creatures live their lives entirely out of sight or whether in this instance we were looking at a termite relic. but none swung so wildly as to be carried through the air into the empty space on the other side of the railing. with rocky overhangs. the forest is coming back under the current program of protection. Here we hoped to see the platypuses that live wild in the stream. drooped from a tree that leaned from a perch higher on the hill. we found a termite mound. left after the insects were sacrificed to an understandable desire to eradicate them from an area not far from human habitation. rich with bottom muck and lined with mossy stones and ferny plants. Because we could see no signs of activity. cliff-like. but we knew the wombats to be generally nocturnal. this forest would have proved no great impediment to a walker inclined to wander from the path²provided the walker had no fear of snakes and other noxious creatures lying under the ferns or between the rocks or crawling under the litter of leaves and bark. vines of astonishing size and length climbed up the tree sides. We could not climb up or down from here. fresh stream. and in front fell again. the manager of the reserve warned us that it might be a while before small creatures became confident enough to show themselves. notably in the streams at Barrington Tops. That being impossible. No longer the primitive rain forest it once was. but there are palm trees among the turpentine myrtles (tall trees. some of those also very tall. and various eucalypts. Beside the path. Entering a tunnel-like passage. smooth-sided and conical²a replica of the many we saw from the car as we drove over the mountains from Byron Bay to Tenterfield. rising to 60 feet). the lower limbs having succumbed to lack of light and dropped off. to the platypus stream sixty or eighty feet below. Standing not far from the path. their lumber prized for its resistance to termites). Except on the steep sides of the hills and mucky bottom near the stream. moss covered and punky with decay. and the only way out was back through the rock-lined passage that brought us to this place. drooped from high limbs. because a school group had passed through not long before us. the path came to a collection of boulders that had been given the name Sarah's Cave. A wooden railing had been erected to protect the incautious from cascading down the cliff-side to the stream below. we drove to Gosford. . bordering the New England Tablelands. as it wound its way up the steep side of the hill. but that didn't rule out some other method of destruction. a visitor can imagine its past glory from the huge logs and stumps that remain. a small. Because the vine was sturdy and hanging free. Here.Cane toads aside. Wombat holes opened at various places. The undergrowth was light and the trees without significant branches for many feet into the air. Logged over earlier in its history. as they do in other places in New South Wales. ironwoods (acacias with proverbially hard wood. a place of sheltering overhangs and enclosures. although we watched at the pool for some time (perhaps they are more active at night or in the morning or evening² we didn't know). About halfway up the trail. and so it proved with the platypuses. Although it contains few giants. rising to 120 feet. No other mounds were in sight. the higher limbs providing the canopy through which the sun filtered its beams in small speckled patterns. A hanging vine. Unfortunately. named for a Russian nature preserve of the nineteenth century. it was hard and brown like the earth it rose out of. This is a sub-tropical forest rather than the tropical rain forest we might have visited in Queensland.
When the waiter appeared. giving them a shaped. a Gosford resort connected to the Peppers in Pokolbin in the Lower Hunter wine district. Ours was brown merging into green. it was following a small trickle of water down the hillside and across the path toward the stream. They are necessary for the survival of the platypuses. At Peppers by the Sea. which lacks oversize claws). it required only a quick flick of the wrist to land them. but the rest of us . Commonly called "yabbies" in Australia. A good fifteen feet from the stream. Barbara and Suzanne ordered sea bugs (Australian lobsters). Lunch time. Sally Morgan calls them by a Western Australian name and tells of catching them as a child: I caught gilgies by hanging over an old stormwater drain and wriggling my fingers in the water. Our sighting was not unusual. We were surprised that this one was not in the water. He had often seen them as far as two hundred yards from the water. uncurled it would have extended another few inches). on the bank. Along the edge of the road. Their dark green foliage resembles needles. but is thicker than most pine needles and their beauty derives especially from their symmetry. much further down. for their eggs and young serve as a mainstay of the platypuses¶ diet. is a splendid row of the Norfolk Island Pines common in seaside plantings in New South Wales. crayfish come in various sizes. with spaces of Australia's blue sky shining between the layers. manicured appearance. As soon as the gilgies latched on. some in Tasmania reported to grow up to two and a half feet long and others on the Australian mainland reaching a foot and a half. with orange highlights. we took a table on a terrace overlooking the sea. and looked much like an American lobster (not like an Australian lobster.On another part of the path. bordering the seaside. gasping. chicken-lobster size (eight inches or so from claws to rump with the tail curled. It had two large claws. We watched it walk fairly efficiently on land until it disappeared in the deeper water at the bottom of the hill. he said. as the branches spread horizontally in layers. When when we were leaving asked the manager about its behavior. we encountered our only specimen of truly interesting wildlife in its natural habitat: a freshwater crayfish. In My Place.
there are many less fortunate life stories than that of an ordinary bloke. caring little for her children. later famously embodied in the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor." Drawing unpleasant pictures of tropical civilizations in Egypt. where Clarke wrote. much of the rhetoric of freedom included the liberation of women from their traditional bonds. but without sufficient brain-power to sin with zest" puts her in the shadow of her strong-jawed. Marcus Clarke. what's wrong with being tall. author of the convict novel His Natural Life. Such is life. in another hundred years the average Australasian will be a tall." he predicted little future good for Australians: . His wife will be a thin. and placid scenery. points to a widespread contentment with small achievements. Look at Ned Kelly. Australians don't go in much for manifest destiny. but without sufficient brainpower to sin with zest. and talented. his national policy a democracy tempered by the rate of exchange. Facey's A Fortunate Life. who died at twenty-five. The extraordinary popularity of A. is more nearly of the latitude of Venice than of the tropical places he cited as precedents for the future development of his country. they are a nation of ordinary blokes. . But what of the Australian woman? Clarke's portrait of a "wife . and Africa. An Australian who accepted this curious premise. Two years after the . After all. It's a big country and over a century since Clarke it remains largely unoccupied. greedy. and a Venetian hegemony over southern seas. Curiously. B. too. From the battle at Eureka Stockade to the federation of colonies that formed the Commonwealth of Australia. . but a bloke can do all right with those qualities. a thin. if clever enough to foresee that most of the population would settle in what might be called the southern European portion of Australia²its equivalent of Athens to Rome to Venice² might have predicted a glory that was Greece's. Staying within the continent. a bloke might say. at Cairns to Bombay and Mexico City. Nicaragua.contented ourselves with stuffed potato skins and tomato. India. Taken all in all. coarse. with its controlling assumption that survival of manifold hardships identifies a man as lucky in a generally luckless existence. talented man. talented husband and seems strangely out of tune with the chorus of late nineteenth-century voices calling for equality and a fair go for all. foresaw The Future Australian Race as "determined by two things: food and climate. strong-jawed. Australians of that more expansive sort seem not to have been heard in a chorus for which Clarke served as a strident. partly in tribute to the sea bug relative we earlier watched with such interest. light soil. very fond of idleness. . an icon of rights movements throughout the world ever since the French Revolution. but was more scrupulous about geography. In their popular mind. excelling in swimming and horsemanship. overbearing voice. It seems that Clarke looked largely at the geography of Australia and assumed his future state of Australasia would extend its boundaries as far north as Singapore. and excelling in swimming and horsemanship? That's leaving out greedy and pushing. That other Australian. at Brisbane the traveler comes to the latitude of Cairo and Delhi. might have observed that measuring from the equator. strong-jawed. a grandeur that was Rome's. You play your cards as they are dealt. if he doesn't push himself so far above his mates he becomes a tall poppy. caring little for her children. La Liberté herself was a woman. narrow woman. pushing. but seem content to accept a secondary position among nations. the Middle East. and contrasting these with the Greek civilization that arose from "pure air. narrow woman. cheese and avocado salad. Mexico. very fond of dress and idleness. Sydney and Newcastle are not much closer than Athens to the equatorial line between earth's poles. Too right. Melbourne. Women's Lot In 1877. at Darwin to Saigon and Managua. . Canberra is geographically more or less equivalent to Rome. a hero to many.
while Louisa Lawson struggled toward self-sufficiency and campaigned for female betterment. "Dear 'Miles Franklin'. Among the concessions that Franklin requested from the publisher was "Please on no account allow 'Miss' to prefix my name on the title page as I do not wish it to be known that I'm a young girl but desire to pose as a bald-headed seer of . and for a full professor the regulations specify a rug on the floor (or so we were told). In 1902. nearly two decades before women had the vote in the United States. however. with Franklin's permission he took the manuscript with him. Miles Franklin was then barely twenty. this morning and have more than "skimmed" through it already." Meanwhile. Because Lawson was leaving soon for London. For some years I have been scribbling and have written a book. It's a long way from the drover's wife. In the year of Australian Federation. 1901. and in spite of the Sydney Bulletin's encouragement to every man to tell his story. Franklin turned to Henry Lawson. In the 1890s. and before long secured its acceptance by Blackwood's of Edinburgh. and proclaimed in its motto that "A day. Will you write and tell me who and what you really are? man or woman? and something about yourself? . beginning just before her nineteenth birthday. and there is no rug. hopeless in her daily round of lonely chores. to La Liberté. As for posting a story to them with a hope of it being read unless one has swell influence one might as well try to sell an elderly cow for a race horse²thus I have conceived the idea of beseeching your aid." Women both wrote and printed The Dawn. the square footage is less. political life in the Australian colonies bubbled with millennium fervor in the yeast of rising expectations of benefits to be conferred by Commonwealth status. as did another Australian publisher. In the new century. Baptized Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin. Banjo Paterson celebrated hardy masculine bush life in poems like "The Man from Snowy River. she wrote her book in about six months in 1898-1899. For lower ranks. My trouble is that I have lived such a secluded life in the bush that I am unacquainted with any literary people of note and am too hard up to incur the expense of travelling to Sydney to personally interview a publisher on the matter. Australians have found ways to ensure equality even in places where a stranger might least expect it. whom she knew only by his verse and his reputation as one of Australia's finest writers: This is written to ask you if you will help me. hoping to pass for a man. we carried away the strong impression that the move toward full equality of the sexes lags two or three decades behind progress in the United States. I believe that you have done a big thing. that specify the square footage of office space each professor in a university is entitled to. Observing women in secondary positions almost everywhere. The Dawn. it did not look at first as though the story of a woman would find encouragement in Australia. holding aloft her torch of promise. they achieved it in Australia. . Received your MS. Louisa Lawson founded in Sydney her feminist journal. women would step forth proudly under the Southern Cross as equal partners in a new political. practice another. Despite the interest in bush literature aroused by Larson and Paterson. . Equality between the sexes seemed in our time less clearly worked out both within and outside the university. The Bulletin rejected the novel. Lawson's recognition of a genuine talent was almost immediate. many believed." he wrote. Angus & Robertson. To help place her work she used only her last two names. for example. Wonderful levelers. My Brilliant Career's depiction of a girl growing up in rural Australia was written by a girl whose experiences matched those of her heroine. an hour of virtuous liberty / Is worth a whole eternity in bondage. There are regulations. and left her age unclear. social. a small book by Miles Franklin showed how far women still had to go.dedication of that statue. and economic order. Principle is one thing. I will explain." Louisa's son Henry tried to temper Paterson's enthusiasms with his own poems and stories like "The Drover's Wife. There is strict equality for the perquisites granted within each rank.
although the publisher honored the request that the "Miss" be omitted from the title page. "was my hero. and even my religion till I was ten. for." Sybylla's idyllic childhood. "I don't know about the girlishly emotional parts of the book². if I am cursed with any." Intending it so. Wales. but discontent." Of her father's prowess with horses. My ambition was as boundless as the mighty bush in which I have always lived." places a reader may assume are in the area where Franklin lived most of her early years in country celebrated by Banjo Paterson in "The Man from Snowy River" and "Clancy of The Overflow. Also. "Possum Gully was stagnant. Nothing ever happened there. will be worn away!´ And finally. Since then I have been religionless. this is a book not about content. or astride were all the same to me. and in which my old age." Of these. In a section headed "Self-Analysis." the young female narrator asserts that her story is "as real in its weariness and bitter heartache as the tall gum-trees among which I first saw the light. 1899. man-saddle. As a result. daughter of a man who in her childhood held stations totaling "close on 200. N. and the days slid quietly into the river of years. and sex-problem passages which I blushed at myself. "I leave that to girl readers to judge. they are cramped on dreary flatlands eight miles from a railroad and seventeen miles from Goulburn.000 acres. but the descriptions of bush life and scenery came startlingly. distinguished one from another by name alone. she reports. nosaddle." When she is nearly nine. Side-saddle. the book is true to Australia²the truest I ever read.the sterner sex. which is greedily devouring my youth. . and Bin Bin West. mate. "at eight I was fit to ride anything on the place. Franklin's sex was given away in a preface by Henry Lawson that was added to help sales." She confesses that ³My sphere of life is not congenial to me. As I grew it dawned upon me that I was a girl²the makings of a woman! Only a girl!²merely this and nothing more. near Goulbourn. 1st March. because there has been none in my life or in any other life which has come under my notice. uncertain of her feelings about him and the institution of marriage. is so brief it occupies only one chapter in a novel of thirty-eight. she notes that . .000 acres" at "Bruggabrong. Franklin wrote that "any toning down is very. dated as from "Possum Gully. Franklin wrote that "The Man from Snowy River is a common feat with him. how I hate this living death which has swallowed all my teens. "There is no plot in this story. confidant. which will sap my prime. On a particularly hot day in December.S. . Instead of blissful freedom in a splendid country of rolling hills and mountain ranges." As a result." Her problem is partly her growth toward womanhood." My Brilliant Career is a first-person account by the disillusioned Sybylla Melvyn. and I know that." Blackwood wanted changes." she defines the situation clearly: As a tiny child I was filled with dreams of great things I was to do when grown up. Time was no object. unfit for marriage. as the preface suggests. as far as they are concerned. encyclopedia. Sybylla's father." but she also wrote that "should Mr. the book as published was in some respects not what she wrote. She has looked too closely at life in the Australian bush. she puts him off. Australia." he wrote. although how much was changed remains unclear. political." and in the novel Sybylla as a child has a similar model placed squarely before her for emulation. Sybylla is taken by her family to their new home at Possum Gully. Franklin warned the reader that it might not be to everyone's taste. Blackwood consider any of the material really unpublishable I am willing to defer to the judgment of wiser and more experienced heads. she falls into the despair of one unfit to live with her family.When a neighboring squatter named Harold Beecham is attracted to her very crankiness and intelligence. painfully real to me. Considering herself physically unattractive and finding her mind of no use to her and religion a failure. Lawson wrote that he found "many religious. partly an intelligence and ambition greater than her circumstances allow. where their huge land holdings are replaced by a farm of only 1. however. In an introductory note. Oh. Here she leaves her childhood enthusiasms behind he and matures into increasing awareness of the great Australian emptiness. and unfit to earn a living. while I was assuring him that Australians wouldn't blush--and he saw the blush and struck 'em out. very much against me. where the nearest town lies forty-six miles away. Bin Bin East.
and on Australian mateship and. Devoted to writing to the end." On the other hand. My Career Goes Bung. but only to be rejected for the final time. Jessica Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River deserves attention for its study of a woman's place in Australia in the generation next after Miles Franklin's. which was one of the most hopeless of the many slaveries of her life. and The Net of Circumstance. . we see it has become as a portrait of the artist as a young woman. and earn my bread by the sweat of my brow. however. and worked in the feminist movement. I am thankful I am a peasant. As the book ends. and a drought-smitten and a long day. She is still bored by her situation. the courage that enables her to choose the hardships of single life over the partial escape of marriage frees her to change her tone and. set in Australia. alternately hates and loves Australia. and she died there in 1954. . My Career Goes Bung. None of Franklin's many later works has attracted the attention of her first. and poddy calves ever have a tendency to make me moralize and snarl. In later years. Franklin rejected requests to publish My Brilliant Career. and the life of those around us. In this. met Joseph Furphy. where she worked for the National Women's Trade Union League and did some writing and editing for their journal Life & Labor. who left the bush in pursuit of a career. "For what does one write? Shall I get a hearing? If so²what then?" She can see no sure future. frustrated with her prospects. It finally had its first publication in Australia in 1966. the reconstituted "true" Sybylla is much like the earlier "fictional" one. In most important ways. worked under an assumed name as a maid in Sydney and Melbourne. She has been caring for a sick calf. as man was meant to do. She has been cooking. impatient with restrictions on women's lives. but earned little money for its author. Some Everyday Folk and Dawn. Yah! At this point Harold Beecham appears again. "Why do I write?" she asks.bush fires have been raging in the neighborhood for a week. She now wants to correct the story and deal with the consequences of its falsification. he thinks he has a right to force his attentions upon her. sympathetic with the underclasses. My Brilliant Career received good reviews. by implication. including the fact that because a man named Henry Beauchamp thinks he is the model for Harold Beecham in the book. In 1906 she moved to Chicago. she set aside funds in her will for an annual prize to assist other writers. a dozen years after her death. This was hard work. This was life. wrote freelance for the Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald. and two decades after the appearance of the "true" story. and it was a very hot day. and mine was arduous labor. she invents Sybylla anew. my life and my parents' life. first published in 1946. and in the end must leave her country to pursue her career. Among winners of the Miles Franklin Award. . a child of the mighty bush. The . She tried nursing. In 1915 she left for England. except that "For the present. and if I was a good girl and honoured my parents I would be rewarded with a long stretch of it. that even the sparrows have been baking in their nests between the house and kitchen. And then she considers her mother: My mother was busy upon piles and piles of wearying mending. her account metamorphoses into a panegyric on Australia. of my family I am the most suited to wait about common publichouses to look after my father when he is inebriated. this time as a narrator embarrassed to discover her fictional autobiography has been mistaken for truth. a daughter of the Southern Cross. She did not return to Australia permanently until 1933. scrubbing. sweeping. She published two more novels. that she has joined others in carrying buckets of water to keep them under control. a part of the bone and muscle of my nation. although she wrote an interesting sequel. a Chicago story. in the last two pages. sisterhood: I am proud that I am an Australian. and my father was slaving away in the sun. whose Such Is Life she greatly admired. which went out of print in 1910.
Nora Porteous is a woman in her late seventies when she begins hers. in the long run. but this does not suggest a career. time has eroded three-quarters of century from the possibilities that surrounded her birth. Nora's memories of the past are sandwiched between her experiences in the home in Brisbane she returns to in old age. These two times--a present slipping away in the act of narration and a past already gone-resonate against one another to display Nora's passage from girlhood innocence into a mature and free sexuality. A woman's choices are narrow. touched with poetic sensitivity. and of "Keats. who leaves Brisbane to become a successful novelist in Europe. friends keep bringing out the embroideries of her youth as evidence of her genuine talent. to outrun oppression. she marries. when she returns in her seventies." But marriage fails her and so. When she returns to Brisbane." It seems that a large part of the impetus to marriage is the chance to live in Sydney. Shelley. As a young woman she accompanied her nephew to a creek to hunt for yabbies. Writing in Nora's life remains a possibility lived vicariously through her friend Olive. Nora's is a subtle rumination on choices and causes. does Sydney. Ella Wheeler Wilcox. a shop. and endured a messy British abortion. enfused with the wisdom and crankiness of age." in a "raw ugly sprawling suburb" of Brisbane. these stand among a number of symbols of how the possibilities of her life have become restricted over the years. ³I was going." Her restless spirit expresses itself in long walks: "I walked and walked. and overlaid with ambiguities. "If that sounds laughable. Although as a child she could walk to the river. Years later he reminded her that she urged him to let their captives go. and that I was a backward and innocent girl. rather than the bush girl that Sybylla was." But then she considers the choices of others. Nora began her life as the twentieth century commenced. she finds the old paths blocked by newer homes constructed on expensive lots chosen for their water views. where she can find no beauty to match the image of Camelot she obtained from reading Tennyson's The Idylls of the King and The Lady of Shallot. but with this crucial difference: although Sybylla Mervyn is still a teen-ager with her life before her when she completes her narrative. I never for one moment doubted it. and hundreds of novels" leads to no writing of her own beyond her few youthful poems. More modest in her artistic expression. marries and becomes Mrs. and has passed through the changes accompanying the two world wars and the Great Depression. but will leave Brisbane the minute she comes into her inheritance at twenty-five. Nora is considered artistic because she writes poems and does embroidery. which has come to stand "proxy for Camelot." The mercy she seeks in her own life requires her to leave her childhood home. living in a backward and unworldy place. looking toward an adult life in the twentieth century that she fears holds no promise for her. I could not imagine what I had done to deserve it.novel was published in 1978. the church or school²but mostly. A beautiful woman. become pregnant. saying "Let's strike a blow for mercy. when she looks back. at random. although having "lost confidence in my own attraction." she says. a substitution forced upon me by what little sense I had. Nora is not the writer yearning to breathe free that Sybylla Mervyn was. she turns easily and naturally to the past tense for her history. which never achieves motherhood. At twenty-five and with no inheritance. By the middle of the nineteen-thirties she has left her marriage and sailed to London. "do consider that this was a long time ago. which she abandons after the abortion to become "an old woman who began to call herself old before she really was. A town girl. Dorothy Rainbow. and the tale she unfolds is largely a drama of the past as she searches for understanding and acceptance in the present. Nora was raised in a house "stuck twelve feet in the air on posts." As a teen-ager her one clear desire is to get away. She has also had a shipboard affair with a married American. Sybylla's story is a youthful cry of frustration and anger. Her friend Olive will not marry. Her love of Tennyson." Against the expression of her female body. and like My Brilliant Career is presented as a first-person narrative. . who is only slightly older than she is. Sybylla ends her story in 1899. Nora passes from embroidery to dressmaking to a long and mostly unchronicled career as a theatrical costumer in London. Narrating her present in the present tense. sometimes with an objective²a friend's house. Anderson sets the expression of her female mind.
we might say. was seventy-five miles to the east. and columbines²with which "the old people fought the place. married a widower. "what would have happened if I had never left this place. and in time takes an ax and murders her husband and most of her children before committing suicide." Jill Ker grew up on a sheep station further into the Outback than the station where the real Miles Franklin and the fictional Sybylla Mervyn spent their earliest idyllic years or the farm where they lived out her adolescent boredom. she twice repeats. he and her mother arrived to find "That year the drought was so severe that the topsoil was drifting. The Road from Coorain. . The new owners thus drove not through the gate. she observes that the favored plantings have changed. candytuft. Their success as authors demonstrates that barriers deterring major intellectual accomplishment by women have not been insurmountable. because "nobody could stop me. and tended their mother. The nearest town. With a tinge of regret she observes that "it is too late now for me to learn not to fight it. When Jill's father took up the land in 1929 under a government scheme to aid veterans of the first World War. south of Bourke and still further west than that traditional beginning of the Outback. where the family met the train for excursions to Sydney." She has suffered through the English winters only a few years when she begins "telling people that I was going home. But Anderson's novel haunts the imagination with its subtleties and ambiguities. . Australia seems a far from ideal place for nurturing women's ambitions. Born in the Great Depression." In Tirra Lirra by the River." When she returns to Brisbane in old age. "One has read of such things." she is confronted by the excellence of her early embroidery and concludes "I have never done anything of this quality since. This "does not really surprise" the elderly Nora. Franklin and Anderson confirm the existence of the lives their characters shun. Wondering. and in some cases to live them. Nora fails to recognize the marvelous quality of the story she tells² which in its telling has only appeared to be hers. engulfing any obstacle in its path. Neither of the women in My Brilliant Career and Tirra Lirra by the River is a drover's wife or anything like it. but over the silted up boundary fence. hollyhocks." That can't be said of Anderson. the Lachlan and the Darling. the barriers have remaind high. She marries.The novel also slowly unfolds a darker parallel tale. Dorothy Rainbow. Western New South Wales was an area of immense nineteenth-century grants that had begun to be . and the family garden. however. Nora's elder sister Grace lost a boy friend who was one of many young Australians who went off in World War I to die on the other side of the world for reasons not fully understood at home. who did leave Brisbane and wrote this fine novel and a number of others. A long way from the major rivers of the region. The two sisters also lost a brother and numbers of the boys who were once their playmates. Through their literary creations they suggest that it has been possible for women in Australia to aspire to lives other than the traditional. By the end of the book." "Coorain" was an Aboriginal name for "the windy place. the house. and neither is "fond of dress and idleness . too beautiful in Nora's young mind to remain in stuffy Brisbane. becomes a mother. it is not clear which choice was best." but once there she observed the trees "enclosed by an iron railing with a locked gate. at the time that the fictional Nora Porteous was dissolving her marriage and leaving Sydney for London because "nobody could stop me. by the sleight of hand of Jessica Anderson. Forty miles to the north was the railroad station at Ivanhoe. as in My Brilliant Career. But Grace stayed on in Brisbane." people are planting tropical flowers and eucalyptus and tea-trees. Hillston. Coorain was continually threatened by drought and dust. does stay. without sufficient brain-power to sin with zest. Coorain was in New South Wales." and this was a spacious place for the winds to blow." By a conventional irony of narration. This observation was confirmed in the year of our visit by the publication of Jill Ker Conway's autobiography. and that never again would I live in a climate where oranges don't grow. now in place of the English flowers²larkspurs. Nora went to London." In portraying Sybylla Mervyn and Nora Porteous as women who struggle against roles society defines for them. Closer to our own time.
about wider issues of cultural imperialism. . Don't waste your time in school. She picked up much from her older brothers." It remains sadly ironic that she had to leave her birthplace to give full . Fifty miles to the west. Toward the end he had advised her concerning her future. where her mother would say "I don't need help. I took the job when offered. she sailed with her mother to England. but in her awakening to injustice toward women. Of him. possibly another suicide. Clare Station's 500. "The Right Country. encouraged a strict equality between" Jill and her brothers.000 acres they later augmented to 32. Jill. . Run quickly and go with your father.A. She embues her last chapter. still searching.000 acres represented a reduction from its nineteenth-century size. The Kers began with a ninety-nine year lease on 18. and about women's place in the world.subdivided. the local postmaster was found one day hanging from a beam in the post office." After the first third of The Road from Coorain." in London. when the war came." By 1944 conditions were desperate. Although it "helped clinch the decision that Boston and Cambridge were about as far away from Sydney as one can get on this planet. . Later that day he was found dead in a pond. she enjoyed the free run of home.D. In deciding to leave Australia to pursue a Ph. The water-cooled "burlap drip safe" was replaced by a kerosene refrigerator. The Kers managed their station well. Get a real education and get away from this damn country for good. she maintains also a sense of the accuracy of a remark by a friend of her father's that "she was born in the right country. the bulk of the book traces the ways in which its author followed her father's advice and wound up in the United States. when drought conditions became serious. her father turned moody and began to send Jill to help around the house. Denied a job in the Australian civil service because she was a woman ("too good looking" and "too intellectually aggressive" were the comments reported back to her). In this idyllic time. "the customary occupation of tall." In a time when solitude and despair were widespread. the first owners of the land. See if you can make him laugh. at the University of Sydney. ³Make something of yourself. and did some substitute teaching. at Harvard. she took an M. One morning her father came into her room to say good-bye before she was well awake. An honors degree in history from the University of Sydney in the late 1950s left her with more questions than satisfactory answers about her country's history. Don't be like your brothers. . she tried modeling. By 1942. . Jill was born five years after their arrival. Just as surely as the right country has turned out for her to be the United States. she mustered sheep and became a boundary rider. willowy Australian girls. and some nearby stations continued in an immensity that dwarfed the Ker holdings. When they were sent to boarding school in Sydney. much larger parcels. both grants cut out of earlier. "Work hard. the Model T Ford by a Ford V-8.000 acres. Her mother. and by the late 1930s "the sheep station of my early childhood became a more and more delightful place to live. Whether her defection is "for good" or not is left an open question on the last page. she was also awakening to injustice toward blacks. much like the idyllic childhood of Sybylla Mervyn. She enjoyed the companionship of her mother and the station hands and the increasing mateship with her father. just to see whether people would actually pay me for what I looked like. What is certain is that in her later experience Australia turned out to be no place for a woman with ideas and ambitions. ." Back in Australia. who remembered "her own childhood." with a poignant ambiguity." Wool sales purchased creature comforts. Visits to Coorain²a ten hour drive at eighty miles an hour over dusty dirt roads²kept her in touch with her past." she had not lost her love for Australia. Life changed with the weather. she remained of two minds about leaving. but found that country held no anwers. questions of womanhood intruded very little. "Still smarting from the rejection of my intellectual talents. Don't just waste time. In a particularly telling incident. Conway asked "was he simply a victim of loneliness and depression?" He came to stand for her as "one of my symbols for our need for society and of the folly of believing that we can manage our fate alone. with whom. learning to read by "sitting under the table" where they were being taught by their governess.
In the popular mind." "We like it. the typical Australian woman remains a drudge who never leaves home." have written well. and Elizabeth Jolley. and Laura. They were seeking business careers that would offer good livings and easy lives. What We Thought of Australia "What do you really think of Australia?" In our last weeks we attempted to answer that question as it was put to us most insistently by the young male friends of Alison. sun-tanned beauties who model for Mayfair couturiers.expression to talents engendered there. talented. she knows that "the red dust of the western plains" is too much a part of her ever to be wholly lost. Jessica Anderson. Not only the young men. strong-jawed. He was leaning against the wall with a Foster's ale in his hand. The woman at the yarn shop where we left our photographs for development wanted to know. too. but the women. I did not reply "I think young Australians drink too much. who talked with me on the street outside the shop while Barbara considered yarn or picked up photographs and talked of America and Australia inside. As a good host. posed against a background of sand and sea. but just as curious. He would visit us in Michigan. pose for glossy Gold Coast vacation advertisements. . accompanied by the caption "Bum." but answered with truthful platitudes about beautiful landscapes and friendly people. He would have contested any suggestion that he had drunk more than enough for the evening. . His speech was not quite slurred and he would have insisted that it was perfectly and clearly articulated. The stories of Sybylla Franklin. one o'clock in the morning. Christina Stead. At the girls' Halloween party. North America. beach-bum Australians in any case. where he was sophisticated enough to know he would find no surfing waves. . as did her husband. Bum. Everyone wanted our answer to the same question. Then add at least Henry Handel Richardson. Our students and colleagues . limited funds. He had plans for England. course. like the drover's wife. Titty. "So what do you think of Australia. Suzanne. At the same time. . Nora Porteous. marvelously proportioned. with the two on the sides facing away and the middle one toward the viewer. and Jill Ker Conway. These were not tanned. and quite late in the century had still a long way to travel down a road where 80 miles an hour and a lot of red dust may diminish the distance but not materially change the view. and Jill Ker Conway²two fictional women and a real one²suggest that women had a long way to go to reach full equality in Australia at the beginning of the century. that was what I really thought. Yes. Most were completing university study and uncertain of their future." On the other hand. or ornament beachside kiosks on postcards showing three nearly-nude graces. what do you really think of Australia?" This was a generally likeable young man who sometimes embodied the course and pushing part of Marcus Clarke's future Australian male. whether or not they are "tall. Australian men. Women were less insistent." "And?" "It's a nice place. South America and other places where a Qantas pass. who visited us frequently." "No. . and a talent for finding temporary employment would take him. consider three women authors: Miles Franklin. excelling in swimming and horsemanship. Less typical are the long-limbed. the question was put to us with particular insistence by a young man who had drunk too much. One was going to travel for a while. have compiled a record of distinction. I mean. Sally Morgan.
and the last found with the hose "tied in a neat bow around her neck. Such people were anxious that Americans should validate their perceptions of the difference between the countries and had no conception of a green America. one survived. we continued to look for remnants of the Aboriginal past." In an unrelated crime in Newcastle a teen-age girl was found nude on the beach at Stockton. but nothing from Australia. Meanwhile. Seal Rocks was as beautiful in October as in August. we decided it was indeed a lucky place. as we did. Generally. There were also violent crimes. Who would take two towels and not all five? Who would come through the bush in the back? Who would come from the street side empty-handed in plain daylight and return carrying towels? What about the barking dogs on both sides? We decided the most likely answer was teenagers who would tell their parents they found the towels abandoned on the beach. There was not enought surf for surf boards. earrings. The news regularly featured businessmen and public officials accused of fraud and malfeasance. Hollywood. Fingal Bay's crescent beach faces a green. The sand still squeaked underfoot in pristine cleanliness and three surfers occupied only a small portion of the long. Thefts more serious than towels were not unknown. the girls watched the great Mark Richards practicing on his surfboard. Four died. the small crabs and sea urchins as continually fascinating. bashed to death with a rock after a birthday party at the abandoned North Stockton Surf Club. pieces of sculpture. "Australia felix" as it used to be called. When I sold our car through a newspaper advertisement as we were leaving. Each of the women was bashed on the head with a blunt instrument in daylight not far from her home. To the end of our stay. an hour's drive south of Newcastle and slightly west of Lake Macquarie. incoming waves. the purchaser carefully checked the registration against police files to make sure it wasn't stolen. two were strangled with pantyhose. white homes with red-tiled roofs. it was often difficult to tell whether they were serious criminals or mere victims of the tall poppy syndrome that cuts down the flowers that bloom above the rest. Scrub growth behind the beach blocks out the small parking area. but a few people swam outside of the flagged area. The collection is rich in masks. wooded island that blocks out most of the ocean and leaves only small inlets to left and right. A "Granny Serial Killer" stalked Sydney's North Shore all the time we were in Australia and had attacked five women in their eighties by early November. Far to the left of our place on the beach there was a Surf Club with a flagged swimming area. Still. unpaved by freeways and unshadowed by overpasses. where the waves are fabled. For us. pinching things off clotheslines was exactly the kind of crime that earned convicts transportation in the early days. articles . Some of the people we talked to had been to Los Angeles. There are no high-rise apartment buildings and no businesses in sight and only a few small. we continued to gather impressions. Closer to home. a small South Sea Island Museum contains artifacts collected by Seventh Day Adventist missionaries in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. At Cooranbong. we found Fingal Bay another small Pacific paradise with limited parking and the crowds drawn off to the nearby Shoal Bay. The usual topless bathers included a handsome woman as close to nude as a suit with a string bottom will allow. and Disneyland on the inexpensive tours that seem always to be going there and returned reinforced with contentment as Australians. The tidal pools remained as crystal clear as in winter. Much of the universal curiosity sprang from the natural human desire to believe that a lifetime has not been spent in the wrong place. If this was the only crime in Australia. Unfortunately. Once on Bar Beach in Newcastle. we heard of more serious crime in Australia. Others had seen more of North America than California's southern megalopolis and none of them lived beyond the reach of American technology and popular culture. One evening we returned from dinner to find our best two towels missing from the clothesline in the back yard. they craved assurance that we did not perceive their country as irredeemably relegated by history and geography to the perpetually second rate. and nearly as uncrowded in 80 degree temperatures under cloudless skies. Phil and Dorothy wanted to be sure we saw the right things and came to the right conclusions. gently curving.wanted to know.
at least not by me. Among a number of fine writers. outside Nelson Bay." Among Aboriginal items she had a rudely carved boomerang that looked like it had been made for actual use²one of the few such we saw in Australia. A badly-neglected wooden sign on the front lawn proclaimed the place a seashell shop and museum. Invited to handle it. where acrylic painted specimens abound for the tourist trade. bandicoot or other creature. A didgeridoo nearly three feet long stood in a corner. Blue-ringed octopuses. Single-engined and high-winged. I discovered it could not be blown like a trumpet. Afterward. not for sale. a Seventh Day Adventist College apparently still educates natives of the islands. Masks. ears and stubby fins or legs had been carved from a white wood that was then painted black or dark red. Others had similar tags marked "not for sale. and was crudely carved with emus and cabbage-tree palms. Each figure was additionally ornamented by incisions that replicated on its body three or four impressions of the animal carving. Not far away. What we thought of Australia was increasingly affected by our sense of its rich and inventive contemporary literature. all labeled in heavily polemic terms. in the Northern Territory. Each was a highly stylized totemic fish. or both. driftwood. the body had been incised in blocks of parallel lines to create a hatch-work over the central portion. The chair is also on display. Bliss. In an antique shop in Newcastle we found a boomerang all but hidden on the floor under a curio cabinet. was on the reading list for the Australian literature course at the University of Newcastle. The place seemed to have blossomed from a personal collection to a museum with a few pieces added for sale. Between home and museum. stone fish. Perhaps it was necessary to hum into it. a fabulous Australian saga narrated by a one hundred and thirtynine year old man. He had just won England's Booker Prize for Oscar and Lucinda. it looks like a 1930s Cessna or Piper Cub. rowed him to shore. with many items identified as presents to the missionaries from heathens who accepted Christ." Many were hanging from the walls or displayed on shelves or in cabinets in a commercial limbo. Photographs show how twenty or thirty men rowed out to his ship. we added to our collection. Most were the same shells. an airplane identified as the first missionary plane in the South Seas stands on a pillar as though coming in for a landing. they were 18 to 24 inches long. Rescued from this obscurity and dusted off. For Australia. each with a dusty price tag. which won the Miles Franklin Award in 1982. dried seahorses. too.of dress. In the second of two rooms is displayed a dugout canoe that once welcomed Prince Charles to the Solomon Islands. but felt as empty as gourds. carved figures. it was heavy enough for serious use for hunting or warfare. then lifted the chair with him still in it and carried him ashore. we found they were carved from a very light wood. with the white incisions contrasting with the painted portions left uncut. but it was sometimes difficult to tell. None of these was for sale. dugong. We bought several. and idols. and seven or eight inches in circumference at their widest points. and snakes swam pickled in jars that seemed to make them museum pieces. a historical novel set in Victorian England and Australia. tapered toward nose and tail. Examining them. and drums were mostly from New Guinea and tagged "not for sale. Peter Carey was the tallest poppy in 1989. nor could I produce more than a faint hum by blowing across the end as though it were a beer bottle. in-home museum and shop in Corlette. she didn't volunteer it. we found half a dozen animal carvings unlike anything we saw elsewhere in New South Wales. tail. This. sat him in a chair in the middle. we had better luck at a small. The proprietor said they were from Arnhem Land. and plastic key chains with nautical scenes that could be bought at any beachside kiosk. untagged. Entwined in a dusty fish net on the back wall. If the woman knew the secret. Near the museum. perhaps balsa. There was a small and uninteresting bark painting. but the woman proprietor seemed glumly convinced of their lack of appeal. The head. tools identified as for human sacrifice. His earlier Illywhacker. but it contained much more than seashells. Some items had tags of manila stock with prices hand-lettered in faded ink. had been made into an award-winning . but not Aborigines. Round and thin. the home of one of the early missionaries stands open for view. The proprietor said they had been hanging there a long time and she didn't expect to get more.
General Motors product) and drive west into the empty Outback to confront just such a fence guarded by just such a soldier. "War Crimes. but express doubt that he is the one leaning against the pump in the model. They want to photograph the boy narrator at his father's gasoline station. it seemed possible that we who lived in a community on Australia's eastern seaboard might pile into our Holden Gemini (Australian name. a local man builds a model of the town on a nearby hill and fills it with little people busy about the streets and places of business or seen in their houses when the roofs are lifted. the strange and original talent announced in the stories of that first book had produced considerable substantial fruit. who looks younger." Perhaps it runs across Australia. It is hot." The soldier does not know if his is the only opening or if other soldiers are guarding other openings beyond his sight. Surprised into a recognition of the beauty of their small community by seeing it so carefully replicated in miniature. then greedy. with at least one story. of wealth. When I first read "A Windmill in the West" in August 1989. He thinks perhaps he misunderstood which side is the American. In the fifteen years since the appearance of The Fat Man in History. Nobody comes. are not fully the people they represent. although they can be recognized as individuals. When The Fat Man achieved its first American publication in 1993. Far to the west something crosses the road. . With the Irish presence so strong in contemporary Australia. that the area to the east of the line could be considered to be Australia. He can't see it clearly enough to tell if it is a kangaroo. north to south. which portion of the apparently limitless landscape lies inside the fence. "we all have dreams of the big city. like the presentation of the new Holden models. which outside. American dollars. the townspeople are first proud. Perhaps it is part of a square. going as far as the eye can see without bending or altering course. The narrator's last sentence suggests worlds of commentary on the relationships between Australians and Americans: "They . Carey's changes in his life and in Fat Man highlight a concern for identity that is a major theme of Australian writing. from an Australian small town. my father has called them. The model people. The book. surfaced in the first Fat Man in "A Windmill in the West" and "American Dreams. Carey has frequently been compared to James Joyce in comments like Thomas Keneally's "Carey is to Sydney what Joyce was to Dublin." He does not know where he is within the continent. had undergone a transformation. A road runs through his opening." dropped and at least six others added. or whether it is straight. A plane arrives. its author was living in New York and teaching at New York University. which it was. . He does not know "if the line is part of a large circle. Carey's Irishness leapt immediately to mind when Joyce Ker Conway remarked in the summer of 1989 that Australia is experiencing an intellectual renaissance similar to the Irish Renaissance of nearly a century ago. They turn the model into a tourist attraction for Americans who "would visit our town in buses and cars and on the train. They would take photographs and bring wallets bulging with dollars. although I am not sure the newspapers were fully clear on that point." But the Americans prove only grudging visitors to a model that by its nature as model is not precisely the town that lies below it in the valley. ." Within the story. Who am I? An accomplished shape-changer in his fiction. The Americans want the real thing. although it was not. In the words of the boy narrator. "Crabs. which the Australian. His vision of an Australia shadowed by the United States." not a part of the original book. He has been told "that the area to the west could be considered the United States. He has been ordered to prevent anyone from crossing his line who does not have a special pass. the story resonated against the news that Americans were then engaged in military maneuvers in the Outback under a code name that may have been Operation Kangaroo. Operation Kangaroo." And like Joyce and a number of Australian authors before him. Carey's "American Dreams" complements "A Windmill in the West" to suggest that the Australian identity is closely bound not just to America's military might. too. south to north.film. for example. appeared to be an annual exercise. of modern houses. but to a materialistic dream of America. of big motor cars: American Dreams. He kills scorpions. In "A Windmill in the West" an American soldier guards an opening in a fence in the Australian Outback that "stretches across the desert. As fantasy merged with reality. if that is what it was." These now immediately precede the chilling last story. Carey eventually left his homeland.
empty. In Bail's novel Homesickness. indeed. . We are at the ends of the earth. "But I am describing a state of mind. It does not read like history. born liars" and "illywhackers"²the last term particularly useful because in Illywhacker Peter Carey elevated an Australian colloquialism into a shorthand for Australian experience. the incongruities. operating at country shows." In a surreal scene in an English museum they confront a nose shaped like Ayers Rock. no place. . and faraway country the exiled Ovid of Malouf's imagination. but they are all true. including the literary expression of that experience. . he may as well be describing the Australian homeland "of nothing really. the distance from the urban centers of the northern hemisphere²continue as major subtexts whether the story is set in Sydney or London or the outskirts of the Roman empire of two millenniums ago. No flower. but they all recognize as an icon of home. the whole plain turns muddy and stinks. grayish brown scrub. hot mists steam among the tussocks. The country lies open on every side. "of nothing really. walled in to the west and south. "It was not until the 1940s and 1950s.spend their time being disappointed and I spend my time feeling guilty that I have somehow let them down by growing older and sadder. the magic of the illywhacker: The old man's stories are . tellingly. . When Ovid listens to the stories of an old native of the place. or at least nothing substantial yet" that haunts Bail's tourists abroad. . It is full of surprises and adventures." as one of them says. esp. and contradictions. Murray Bail attributes the strangeness of traditional stories of the bush to a national "subculture of yarners." Yes. or at least nothing substantial yet. he depicts the emptiness of the land with an archetypal simplicity that might have come from the Outback descriptions of Henry Lawson or Patrick White: . . . no moldy or stale ones. They seem absolutely true and yet they explain nothing. When David Malouf writes of the poet Ovid's exile from Rome to a wilderness near the Black Sea in An Imaginary Life. and incredibilities. . that it is itself the chiefest novelty the country has to offer and so it pushes the other novelties into second and third place." he observes. ." That is to say. Then he adds. must come to terms with his surroundings and find a common ground and a literary language for communication with others. . but speaks straight out of the nightmare landscape of this place and my dream journeys across it. . for example. No fruit. . "that writers began turning their attention more to the cities where most of them had lived all along. a form of extravagant play that explains nothing. including "A professional trickster. A trickster or speiler. like the contemporary Australian writer. they all happened. Malouf reports his reaction in words that suggest a magic similar to that found by Twain in the beautiful lies of Australian history. . . his Australian tourists "come from a country." Above the definitions he neatly enrolled Mark Twain. it is so curious and strange. one of the greatest of literary spielers or illywhackers. but in much of the new literature the old obsessions²the great Australian emptiness. with a view to infinity. which most have never seen. Bail suggests that contemporary Australian writers have begun to escape the tradition of bush writing by rejecting the hereditary obsession with marvelous reports of the country's strangeness and inventing new strategies for writing in Australia. but like the most beautiful lies. the insects swarm and plague us. the strangeness of the land. . On a page of epigraphs. I have found no tree here that rises amongst the low. Carey printed several definitions. as a supporter for the novel by printing a quotation from More Tramps Abroad: Australian history is almost always picturesque. The sharp incline of cliffs leads to the sky. In a strange." Where am I? The sense of distance and strangeness that bedevils the soldier in "A Windmill in the West" and puzzles the boy of "American Dreams" formed a major part of reports from explorers and settlers in the early days of Australia and continues to echo in our time as an inescapable part of the Australian myth. An Australian writer who is not at home in the bush is frequently not clear where home is. In his introduction to The Faber Book of Contemporary Australian Short Stories. level to the north and to the northeast. . and all of a fresh new sort.
There her creativity blossomed. Born in 1923." Yet for nearly a century before that they had a fine novel to turn to. dry and water starved. In Foxybaby. a writer accepts an appointment to conduct a seminar at a college in a place called Cheatham East. Born in Kensington in 1846. with her best-known books appearing in a rapid succession of slim volumes in the 1980s²Mr. As an heir impoverished in youth who went down under and struggled to succeed as a writer in a country where the profession scarcely existed. Australians have been traditionally uncomfortable in contemplating their country's years as a dumping ground for criminals from Great Britain. and have preferred to trace their national identity to the period that began with the gold rush of 1851 rather then the iron-fettered decades following 1788. The digger they like to celebrate began his history as an independent and free-spirited gold miner. Until recently." the national trait of deference to authority that doubts the value of anything Australian until it has been stamped with outside approval. Then she imagines a dark track in the country and a speeding Toyota equipped with a roo bar that hits and kills a walker. where her experiences continue to spin out of control. a school friend of Gerard Manley Hopkins. with the silence punctuated by the clanging of a wind-whipped corrugated iron roof." writes Robert Hughes in his masterful account of the convict past. After spending his small inheritance. And convicts were the first cringers. Considerations of distance. The who am I? and where am I? of contemporary literature stretches beyond its echoes of bush writing to resonate also with the convict heritage. she writes of a world far from Australia with a touch so alien and idiosyncratic as to suggest a sensibility tempered by the Western Australian sun. he wrote . The Sugar Mother. Before Henry Lawson. Nearly to her destination.000 convicts who constituted the bulk of the early settlers. In The Well she evokes traditional images of a vast emptiness. he worked in a bank and on sheep stations until his writing began to pay. My Father's Moon²when she was in her sixties. she sends her car for repairs and travels on the uninsured bus to the school. Tracing one's ancestors to the First Fleet has not been as popular as. Read in the light of later Australian history and literature. strangeness. Isolation and loneliness are endemic in Australian literature. Marcus Clarke was well-qualified to tell their story. she rounds a curve in her Volkswagen. marked by society as worthless and then brutalized in an alien land. "Indeed. and a lonely station. In haunting stories of a nurse's experience in wartime England. In other works she creates a fantastic and slightly demented Australian world in which she wonderfully merges the traditional bush with an urban Australia of automobiles and writers' conferences. They look to the English. runs into a stopped bus. As Melbourne's leading journalist. it is remarkable for themes that now seem inevitable. "the idea that convicts might have a history worth telling was foreign to Australians" into "the 1950s and 1960s. finding their names on the passenger list of the Mayflower. Elizabeth Jolley holds a special place as an exotic import from England." Thus cheated between Cheatham West and Cheatham East. The Fatal Shore. and loneliness in Australian literature must come around eventually to this fine novel. Foxybaby. before Banjo Paterson. The Well. before Rolf Boldreson and Joseph Furphy and Miles Franklin²all of whom wrote of a late nineteenth-century Australia that has become an object of nostalgia²there was Marcus Clarke and His Natural Life.Among contemporary Australian writers. it is a strong story of cruelty and deprivation. before Henry Handel Richardson. Scobie's Riddle. to learn their worth. Australians speak of the "cultural cringe. which is "two hours of sedate driving (one hour for the reckless)" from the slightly less isolated Cheatham West. Australians ignored the history of the 160. Clarke was orphaned at sixteen and in the next year emigrated to Australia. whose body is dropped into the well. Taken by itself. she emigrated to Western Australia with her husband and children in 1959. not a convict laborer pushing roads through a wilderness. in the United States. or more recently to the Americans. and becomes part of a chain accident staged to provide business for a local "Smash Repair Yard. some collected to form My Father's Moon.
a soldier who continuously and sadistically wields power over Dawes. Although the author does not suggest that England is Heaven. When he later grows to love her. maintain in these conditions even a spark of his essential goodness? The other convicts recognize his superiority: "The vilest of all the vile horde penned between decks. Frere. and cannibals. the prisoner good. Enforcing the doubling. and novels. order." The conflict at this point seems simple enough: Can a man whose birth name echoes the idea "divine". ." Will he maintain his fine airs or become a cringer like the rest? Like Claggart toward Billy Budd. Richard Frere becomes obsessed in denying Dawes's goodness in word and deed. Only fools were honest. and magistrates. Dawes" and told "I shall love you always. too distant from the home country for ordinary standards of civilization to apply except in the parodical colonial society of the overseers and in their rigid application of rules designed in London for prisons. . "Frere" behaves like no "brother. The man in authority is evil. a young man transported for a murder he didn't commit. appearances continually deceive and names are ironic. and the man who really committed the murder for which Dawes was transported. 1870-1872. The rest are thieves. This is the world turned upside down with a lunatic vengeance. and rock piles the distant social engineers have never seen. she turns amnesiac concerning his goodness and marries the despicable Maurice Frere. For most readers the book is plenty long enough. if they laughed at his 'fine airs' behind his back. is in fact a cousin. coal mines. Later. he loses his identity as a gentle and kind Englishman and earns a wholly unmerited reputation as the worst of cutthroats. only cowards kissed the rod. cringed and submitted when they met him face to face . He lies about Dawes's heroism when the convict builds a boat and saves Sylvia and Frere himself from almost certain death. The other chief characters are John Rex. and he attempts to break him down morally and physically so he will show himself finally no better than any other convict. but marries the evil one. the Reverend James North . Sarah Purefoy." In this novel. a drunken minister who is ineffectual in bringing about the good he intends. the story tells of Richard Devine.newspaper columns. she can remember nothing to the credit of the man she called "Good Mr. we learn that his uncanny resemblance to the hero comes because he is in fact Dawes's half brother. now a convict with another name. jailers. Rex's mistress. a child of a military officer." Devine's divinity hangs in the balance. and then was cut nearly in half for a book in 1874. Clarke writes literally of brothers as well as figuratively. Saved. Finally. she looks to Dawes to save her. it achieves a suspense that has the merit of keeping pages turning through many passages that sound like the government reports Clarke mined for many of his details. and parsons were the natural prey of all noteworthy mankind. Full of circumstantial absurdities that support a melodramatic plot. Commanding the center in his flawed divinity. Sarah Purefoy invests her pure faith in criminal schemes to help Rex escape confinement and bind him to her will. . John Rex looks physically like Dawes's evil twin. but died a bankrupt in 1881. His Natural Life appeared first as a serial in the Australian Journal. he makes clear that Australia is Hell. and failed to meditate revenge on that world of respectability which had wronged them. brother in name. he escapes from prison and makes his way to London to pose as the long-lost Richard Devine. too soon to witness the burgeoning of bush literature that soon followed. When he learns of Dawes's inheritance. Marooned. . a convict entirely lacking in the noble qualities of Dawes. Sylvia. and the Reverend James North. and not a man penned in that rankling den of infamy but became a sworn hater of law. short stories. Assuming the name Rufus Dawes. long before the convicts arrive at their destination: . Dawes has no less than three doubles. On the transport ship he meets Sylvia Vickers. and "free-men. The idea of inversion is stated on shipboard early in the novel. Each new comer was one more recruit to the ranks of ruffianism. can show no way out of the forest suggested in her name. Society was the common foe. homosexual rapists. Briefly. . murderers. John Rex is king only of thieves and swindlers. plays. who loves the good brother.
a London intellectual. but he had begun to feel that postwar London was "an actual and spiritual graveyard. he catches the convict's "Blood-bespotted hands" and cries "Forgive me. Storms whip the seas and lightning plays over the craggy headlands of a darkly forested island where prison escapees bash one another with axes. and swagmen. he represses his own love for Sylvia to disguise Dawes in his priest's cloak and send him to meet his love² and. and settled in London. his death. The result is a central epic of Australian literature. convicts were never far from the ships that brought them. Like others before him. he published nothing for seven years. in which the schoolmaster and journalist rule what intellectual roost there is. and if Dawes and Sylvia at last recognize their love in this life. turn cannibalistic. From the achievements and failures of these early explorers came another important part of the Australian myth. When he decided to move permanently to Australia in 1948. and then Cambridge University. and physical and spiritual emptiness are struck again and again as people fail to make connections to compensate for the overwhelming cruelty and degradation of the convict system. shearers. in which the rich man is the important man. it turns out. near Sydney. he found himself in a land with an emptiness more than geographical: In all directions stretched the Great Australian Emptiness in which the mind is the least of possessions. The plot is played out against a landscape of oppositional land and sea that broods over a novel in which many of the best passages are descriptive. he had spent over half his life in other places. At one point. he traveled in Europe and the United States. and madness in His Natural Life² remains a specter of dread in the later literature of drovers. or of returning home. After Cambridge. the challenge of the Outback. Born in London in 1912. moved north to Newcastle and Queensland.becomes bonded to Dawes. The fear of getting bushed away from the settled coast²a condition that leads to murder." Settled at Castle Hill. cannibalism. White spent his early years in Australia. Voss was the first winner of the Miles Franklin Award and an important part of the distinguished body of work that won its author a Nobel Prize for literature in 1973. A writer since his teen years. Work on an Australian sheep station followed. across the mountains and into the interior. brother!" At another. in which beautiful youths and girls stare at . settlers. It began in Sydney. saw wartime service in the RAF in the Middle East and Greece. Like the soldiers who accompanied them and the early settlers. or have so thoroughly lost their minds that they offer their rescuers food from the bloody. and played out its most degraded episodes on Van Dieman's Land (later Tasmania) and Norfolk Island. Published in 1957. diggers. The convict story was primarily a coastal one." He saw himself with the choice "of ceasing to be an artist and turning instead into that most sterile of beings. and returned to England for four years at a secondary school near Gloucester. and discover many mornings later that they have so thoroughly lost their way they have emerged from the bush into the clearing of the prison settlement they thought they left behind. strangeness. loneliness. The early history of Australia was not entirely the history of its penal system and pastoral settlers. he had published several volumes of verse and fiction. defeated both by humankind and by this place of terrible emptinesses. it can come only when they lie dying. from the beginning there was also a strong impetus to explore the continent inwards. where he first attended boarding school. the son of Australian parents with roots in the Hunter Valley. however. touched Western Australia. Notes of distance. to the stimulus of time remembered. Although most early Australians were happy to remain near the comforting coast. This is a place and condition escapable only in death. at the traditional midpoint of his life. axe-riven parts of their deceased mates. believing his drunkenness has caused him to fail in his pastoral duty. Patrick White's Voss takes the challenge of exploration and measures it against the dream of a pastoral utopia.
is far from conventional. physical and mental. They shine obscurely through heavy mists of language and narrative construction. this tale of one literal journey into the Australian interior becomes also a tale of several figurative journeys. I would be purposeless in this same sea. he walks with Laura in a symbolic night in a symbolic garden where they are surrounded by fifteen varieties of camellias planted by her uncle in an attempt to infuse the native emptiness with color and scent. takes the reader back to the 1840s. and his expedition replicates no historic expedition." she replies. many of them disdainful. . on the vessel that will carry him to Newcastle and the beginning of his expedition. In the end. it animates. they found deserts and swamps. "You are my desert. As individuals. . Voss is not an easy or wholly a pleasant novel." The first result was The Tree of Man. improbable in the world of stubborn fact. and the march of material ugliness does not raise a quiver from the average nerves. true to the worlds of myth. and encounters Laura. In Voss. who represent a cross-section of Australians of the time. if there is one. although as a German he seems more nearly Leichardt. The novel begins in a Sydney suburb on a Sunday. He parallels both Voss's journeys. Asked to explain his purpose in coming to "this damned country. White wrote once that the germ of the novel may have come in London during the Blitz. More important. "If I were not obsessed ." he replies "I will cross the continent from one end to the other. Eliot's Little Gidding. twelve horses. they have met only a few times and have exchanged but few words. thirteen mules. Voss is neither Eyre nor Leichardt. "Do you hate me. symbol. when he read Edward John Eyre's Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia and Overland from Adelaide to King George's Sound. they rise above the ordinary only when touched most deeply by the quest at the heart of the plot. . he is symbolically afloat on the ocean with the land stretching unknown before him. "I am fascinated by you. T. White played loosely with these histories in order to create a historical romance. and allegory. perhaps because they cannot be. but their expeditions were by most measures failures. Puzzled by the coolness of her behavior. His journey is an obsession. and deep into the Australian interior. S. Eyre memorialized his failing prospects with the names he gave to Mount Deception and Mount Hopeless. he continued his reading with accounts of the explorations of Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt. he reflects to himself. I have every intention to know it with my heart. The meeting establishes a repellent attraction between a man who seems at times to think he is God and a woman whose vision of a God. Certainly an escape to another time and place would have been an attractive idea in a city continually bombed." Standing on shipboard at the time. Leichardt's last expedition²four white men. White parallels the geographical journey with a journey into Voss's mind. As he and his companion steady themselves "against the swell" of the waves.life through blind blue eyes. Instead of pastoral paradises and mineral wealth. to combat the "exhaltation of the 'average'. When White returned to Australia. two Aborigines. When he leaves for the Outback. Both Eyre and Leichhardt went into the interior in the 1840s. two hundred and seventy goats²entirely disappeared. The omniscient narrator takes a dim view of humanity generally and can find little to say to the credit of his characters." The scene is heavy with . From that point on the narrative switches back and forth between the two. and reached areas unvisited by previous white men. . who has stayed at home while the other members of the family attend church. published in 1955. encountered great hardships. the several hearts of darkness in this novel never become fully illuminated. a woman named Laura Trevelyan." and "discover the extraordinary behind the ordinary." Before he leaves. he said. into lonely spinsterhood and sympathetic understanding of the forces that drive men into the wilderness and men and women apart. published two years later. Voss. perhaps?" Voss asks her. when Voss walks out from the city to meet an English patron of his expedition. for instance. with the journey of the love of his life. He began to write again. although it seems to conflate some details of an earlier Leichardt expedition with his last. which in the end rises into affirmation more certain than anything in Voss. an account of bush life at the beginning of the twentieth century.
portent and typical of White's method as he regularly orders nature and humanity for thematic purposes. as a rat-catcher. lying less than decade in the future. Near the end. His Natural Life ends in the 1840s. Before him lies the clearing and hut of a Scottish settler in Queensland." They share sympathetic visions of each other's plight. Malouf's novel completes an interesting trilogy. communication by letter stops--but not communication by spirit. as they travel through the desert together in shared sympathy or hallucination. and as a ship's boy. but stopped because she came to a time when "I would stare at a blank page. he has already lived sixteen years as an Aborigine after thirteen scarcely-remembered and severely-deprived earlier years as a child laborer in an English timber mill. and the possibilities of human expression. is about to turn Australia from what it has been to what it will be. More than the other two." . The Great Emptiness is both physical and spiritual. and perhaps even more beautiful. White left an indelible imprint on powerful and persistent Australian beliefs. then underlines the point with conversation and commentary more important to the author's plan than to the dramatic demands of the situation. as if they had not been flesh. like blotting paper. Everywhere the sense of a terrible or beautiful strangeness vibrates with a promise implied of other places less strange. Behind is the bush and a lifetime of being bushed both literally and figuratively. Soon she is tearing camellias from the bushes. riding "on above the dust. When he falls ill in the desert. Not far into his journey. and that would appear far more expressive than my own emptiness. In a birdlike motion stopped for the contemplation of time. She replies equivocally. When first seen. Voss's faithful Aboriginal servant Jackie approaches him as he lies dying and beheads him withis most prized possessiont. His precarious perch on the top rail of the fence as the novel begins is recapitulated many years later in his last appearance in the memory of the elderly whites who confronted him as children. each in its different kind of desert landscape. across the continent from the settled East. The convict system will play out the last acts of its tragedy in Western Australia. his arms are "outflung as if preparing for flight. Its central symbol is a white Aborigine who stands balanced on a fence between two modes of existence. Remembering Babylon is a fable of potentiality. he writes to ask her for permission to apply to her uncle for her hand in marriage. in which they were writing their own legend." Thirty pages later. Into the garden that she inhabits there wafts continually the hot winds and dry dust of his desert." They argue about God." A love plot silly in brief summary is enmeshed in meticulous details of the physical deprivations of Voss's expedition and the day to day routine of colonial life as it surrounds Laura in the relative comfort she enjoys until she falls ill. She confesses that she used to keep a diary. less terrible. but they also hold tight to the defiant consolatory belief that in some real sense losers can also win. Then. a knife that Voss gave him. In the desert that Voss traverses the flower of his love for Laura blooms ever stronger as his situation becomes more desperate. It is difficult to ignore. atheism. the tones of central Australian myths vibrated again in David Malouf's Remembering Babylon. but some passive stuff. she is racked by a parallel fever at home "in the desert that the house had become. Inhabitants of a country so construed find it difficult to surmount the perpetual underdog's fear that to win is to lose. And for most Australians the pastoralist dream of the independent stockman will slowly fade to a nostalgic memory acted out on weekends against the everyday reality of giant agribusiness and industrialization. Who am I? and Where am I? remain insistent questions in lives envisioned either as masculine journeys or feminine waitings. Four years after our return from Australia. after the first couple of letters. she tells him that "Man is God decapitated. an elegy for a time when Australia's history hung in the balance of an already fallen innocence. When placed beside His Natural Life and Voss. "tearing them across. impossible to conquer. In Voss. The vast interior will yield its secrets to exploration. All three invoke a time when the discovery of gold. the decade central to Voss and Remembering Babylon." He will keep a journal of his expedition.
he becomes a symbol of opportunity missed. and "pointed it at the creature's heart. where Jessica Anderson's Nora Porteous finds a century later that some of the younger people have planted tropical flowers and eucalyptus in repudiation of the larkspurs and hollyhocks with which "the old people fought the place. Words and actions fail. overbalancing now. Absolute Night. Gemmy suffers among the settlers and makes his way back to the bush to die among his adopted people. And now here it is. the boy who pointed the stick gun at Gemmy broods upon how he picked "it up out of its tree-life. to treat as childish: the Bogey. all unconscious in them. how to live with the land instead of fighting against it. In the words of the nameless narrator. . . once and for all. They fear each other. Remembering Babylon speaks powerfully of human failures in understanding. but that does not much lighten the dark. of their gaze. of nightmare rumours. superstitions. . a major staging point now for tourist trips to the Great Barrier Reef. . never to lift him clear. . and all that belonged to Absolute Dark. how to become Australians at home rather than Englishmen in exile. of visible darkness seems but the merest shadow . The white boy puts a stick to his shoulder and aims the imaginary rifle and all its potentiality at the dark figure on the fence." imagined it as a white man's weapon. a scarecrow mystery who is not yet a person but an "it. . one of the new settlements the colonial government is leap-frogging along the coast of Queensland. its mythical fabric is stretched across a bare frame of history and embroidered with traditional figures and ornamental motifs that enrich one another with every reconsideration. and had brought him down . Brisbane is six hundred miles to the south. "I am a B-b-british object" They come to know the "it" as a man named Gemmy Fairley. is a hundred miles north. . Respected for his gifts instead of feared as a specter of civilization bushed²the great bugaboo of Britons attempting to carry their country with them²he might have shown them how to adapt the fruits of their new home to their needs." They know very little what to make of him. and yes." Gemmy's story is farcically misinterpreted. For Malouf's purpose. hit it.He faces a boy and girl whose white experience includes "not just their own but their parents' too. but "otherwise this novel has no origin in fact. the Coal Man. their need to draw him into their lives² love. the girl who stood by his side remembers Gemmy as she saw him. Townsville. Gemmy's sudden emergence from the bush ." Like His Natural Life and Voss. drawn by the power. In the 1840s only a few European families in Queensland occupy footholds they see as points of light in the surrounding darkness. Although the threat of axes and guns runs though the story. and his arms flung out. As an old man. small acts of violence are shocking enough to suggest great wells of human ignorance and a far too great capacity for cruelty. not two yards away. . he thought. Gemmy might have become reincarnated as a white. years back. . brought you slap up against a terror you thought you had learned. Treated differently by the settlers. solid and breathing: a thing beside which all you have known of darkness. . were taken from an actual incident. he might have helped to bridge the cultural gulf between blacks and whites. In Brisbane. again love²overbalanced but not yet falling. . Accepted for what he was. there is no massacre and little bloodshed. he has appeared in the countryside near Bowen. Gemmy's name and his first words. People survive in this story." As an old woman. Remembering Babylon sticks in the mind with its image of Gemmy balanced on his rail. The boy and girl who first confront him live to successful and honored old age. More Aboriginal than white in habits and knowledge. People fail to understand signals flung out of one kind of isolation into the space that separates the isolation of another. They fear the native inhabitants." it shouts." "Do not shoot. They fear the bush. Dressed in tatters. he has forgotten most of the English language and the bulk of the cultural lessons of a stunted childhood. never to fail . Leaving the settlement. up there on the stripped and shiny rail. he as a colonial official and she as a nun who is a famed authority on bees. Malouf informs the reader in a note.
Leaving Macquarie Street at nearly 11:00 in the morning. In the pattern of other writers of the time² Henry Handel Richardson. Today. In Captain Thunderbolt's day. Driving out the Pacific Highway past the extensive cemetery where Twain found no graves in the 1890s. faculty and students prepared for summer vacations. the Department of Mineral Resources in Sydney enjoins you to extinguish camp fires. at the head of the Hunter Valley.poised between two cultures at a time when the European history of Australia remains largely to be written. this was the frontier. We would miss a raging midsummer bush fire if one should occur. and would not see Ayer's Rock or the Great Barrier Reef. This. Barbara Baynton. and we took pleasure in an abundant and vibrant literature. and things imagined. we followed the New England Highway up the Hunter Valley to the tablelands. remains the most convenient road to the other side of the mountains from this part of New South Wales. Barbara Baynton. born in Scone in 1857 at the height of the bushranging period. we were struck by the cultural cringe that too often accompanied the desire for our opinion. we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant in Scone. retracing the route we last followed on the day of the problem tire in Tamworth. anyone can secure a license to fossick in New South Wales. Scone was a base for explorers heading north and west. In its brochure Gold in New South Wales. For us Scone provided another reminder of Australia's near past and its widespread linkages abroad. What we really thought of Australia came from things seen. Later it was extended to include scratching and sifting for other minerals besides gold and for the gemstones for which Australia has become famous. leave gates as found. we found astonishing beauty in the countryside. The railroad extended out from Newcastle to reach it in 1871. From the 1820s to the 1840s. 85 miles from Newcastle. would be unable to test the cooling efficiency of our hilltop location. Why did it seem to matter so much what we thought? We liked the people. Already we were coming into the Great Dividing Range." On Melbourne Cup Day. Leaving in November we would miss a summer Christmas. Among them. It was time for fossicking. grew up to contribute the grim stories of Bush Studies and the novel Human Toll to the turn-of-the-century blossoming of Australian literature. Regulations are few. we left most Australians glued to their TV sets to return to New England. whose . the year after Captain Thunderbolt's bushranging career was ended by his shooting north of Scone at Uralla. the first Tuesday in November. and private property by permission of the owner. In the Australian gold fields of the nineteenth century. Banjo Paterson. things unseen. The fictional Voss took it to begin his exploration into Australia's mythic heart. Domestic pilots were still on strike." who often came after to work the surface and pick through abandoned mining sites. Henry Lawson. Had we chosen to explore today's heart as far as Bourke and back of Bourke. Crown lands are open. and we for our trip home. the term was used to distinguish serious miners with elaborate equipment and deep pits from "fossickers. clerestory windows. Fossicking in New England In November. The might have been stands then as real as the was to be. we would probably have come this way. the route taken by early settlers leaving Newcastle for the upper Hunter. with the Australian school year ended. and Miles Franklin²she left Australia as soon as possible for the wider literary market of England and divided her later life between the two countries. although we could have gone down to Sydney and out the Western Highway from there. and ceiling fan against the 110 degree temperatures of January. and keep clear of "old mine shafts and underground workings and never go fossicking in remote areas by yourself.
Increasingly. In the restaurant we talked with the proprietors not of the past. and racetrack stock graze in rich. Above the valley the countryside is much more raw than below. bringing its gwowing appetite for extensive coal mining. who had driven through the quake area a few hours before the tremors began. lush. On the slopes of the mountain lie acres of wasteland produced by sulphurous fumes from fires located as much as 1." speaks of Australia's "windblown. moved in different circumstances after her success. courtesy of her third husband. The brown grasses had turned green. green pastures. Beyond the cattle country. Because their daughter in San Francisco had lost her apartment and possessions in the recent earthquake. industrialized Australia that spreads outward from Newcastle. Since their daughter seemed determined to find another apartment and stay. In place of cattle drovers. A dozen miles along it. we found the landscape even greener than in September. Far from a windblown waste. The fires are now moving south toward Scone at a rate of slightly over 100 yards per century²an encroachment on another time scale from the march of civilization up the Hunter Valley from Newcastle. Farms are prosperous and paddock fences run in freshly painted white along the roadside. polo players gather for tournaments in July and then in August move a few miles up the road to Quirindi.500 feet below ground that have burned for an estimated 10. In place of the swagmen of Australian legend. The road north of Scone continues to climb toward Murrurundi. shifting. however. Mount Wingen. Valley fields and rolling hills were bright. dotted in white against the green of spring. shimmering. The resulting land use questions recapitulate on only slightly different terms the conflict that arose in gold rush days when the grasslands of sheep and cattle runs were torn asunder by hordes of nugget-searching diggers. the dream of a bush developed for pastoral use must confront the dream of an urban. trails its smoke into the air as a perpetual reminder that coal was there before European settlers arrived. they were pleased to find Laura had few qualms about returning. Laura told them of the shocks she felt at her home a few miles north and the damage she saw. the change from late winter was spectacular. sheep became more common. and close-cropped to a manicured freshness by grazing cattle. and in England late in life. they were happy to meet our daughter Laura. and the dark. Dairy cows. but of the present. big and angular. moneyed lovers of fine horses converge on Scone in May for Thoroughblood Week. they thought it came from a volcano until they found the source to be a smoldering coal fire the Aborigines believed was set by an ancient ancestor. and sometimes dominate the scene.000 years. much of the countryside around Scone now embodies the pastoral dream of the early settlers. riding horses. intermittently rainy day of our drive. she became the titled Lady Headley. both underground and open pit. are interspersed with the darker ones. brownish-green forests were dressed in a green and gold that shone with a promise to belie the dull. When we arrived at the higher altitudes. Skeletal white trees. . Coming up the Hunter in November. When white men first saw the smoke in 1828. awful waste.poem "To My Country. the Burning Mountain of the Aborigines.
If there are any sapphires. the fossicker rocks it again from side to side until the thin ends . the line is deeper at the middle than the ends. When the contents have been thoroughly washed. When found they are no longer the white-painted boards of the valley.Most have lost their outer bark and stand dead and bleached from natural causes or ring-barking preparatory to clearing the land. a shovel. we were advised to try the Nullamanna Reserve. most will be in the bottom sieve. Sand and other particles too small to care about are washed through both sieves into the water. When the contents of the top sieve have been discarded. We might have fossicked for gold here. At the Twin Swans Motel.00 for a family license. The atmosphere of trust in a part of the world that builds statues to bushrangers provided another instance of the expectation of fair dealing we found common in contemporary Australia. we again passed Captain Thunderbolt on his horse. for $70. When I asked about payment. tweezers. We signed no register. outside of town on Frazer's Creek. B. At Uralla. The sieves are a little bigger than dinner plates. where we could rent equipment and find someone to advise us on its use. This is not a country of fences. Giving the sieve a quarter turn. Equipment consists of a pick. Facey's A Fortunate Life: stumps winched from the ground with tangled roots intact and placed side by side to keep cattle off the highway. Larger stones stay in the top sieve. but decided to try first for sapphires at Inverell. but are more likely to resemble illustrations for the nostalgic earlier days of A. To get there we retraced our route through the rocky country to Glen Innis then turned west for another 65 kilometers. the woman shrugged and said I could pay when we left. in recent years commercial mining in New South Wales has been mostly in New England. Because the screen is slightly concave. round with vertical metal edges. and a pillbox for sapphires. a pail. two sieves. A sieve with holes of perhaps three-eighths of an inch in its metal mesh sits on top of one with a much smaller mesh. dirt is dredged from creekside and left in piles near tanks of water for washing. we picked up information on fossicking and paid $5. Although sapphires have been found in other places. with the usual refrigerator and tea-making equipment. As beginners. which is removed and quickly checked against the unlikely possibility of a sapphire so large it didn't fall through. we were given two rooms. with some of the best fields near Inverell. presented no credit card. it is rocked back and forth under water to create a pile of pebbles running across the middle of the screen in a perpendicular line facing outward from the fossicker's stomach. At the Inverell Tourist Center. In the rank beginners' portion of Nullamanna. it is set aside and the fossicker turns to the bottom one. and were given no bill after a good dinner. The fossicker puts a shovelful of dirt in the top sieve and washes it through by immersing both sieves in water and shaking them from side to side.
We worked in shifts. the fossicker has prepared a flat. however. disturbing the top pebbles enough to reveal any gemstones left hidden by faulty rocking or the final flip onto the pad." large enough to cut for jewelry. but only later became objects of desire on a scale to justify commercial mining. who squatted and rocked in the creek. Flies. Nearby. No waving of hands would disturb them. at the bottom. No sapphires? The fossicker gives the pile a light sweeping with his fingertips. the flip onto the pad.of the original line of pebbles have migrated toward the center to create a round. level surface on the ground. and beads of sweat. The dredging done by the district council along the creek's banks turned the area into much more of a gamble than it used to be for experienced fossickers. he said. with a high. in a neat pad on this surface. shoveling from the dredged dirt was comparatively easy and the water was conveniently placed for rocking the sieves. The day was hot. lighting on clothes. Times had changed. digging. Because sapphires are heavier than other stones. lies in the middle. Early production fell off in the 1930s and the recent boom began in the 1960s. fill a pail. but all deposited carefully in our pillbox. and rocking. and then the spreading. Especially attracted to eyes. in the last round pile they will be resting nicely in the middle. or slapping catch them quickly enough to kill. and the search for stones as the pile of washed pebbles grows ever higher. more shaking and rocking and turning. more lightly colored stones toward the edges. boys walking along the creek to school used to pick up large sapphires to use for slingshot stones. and all had little or no value except as souvenirs. Nobody else worked the dredged soil while we were there. and only a few people worked the creek. reflecting back the bright gleam of the sun. before there was a commercial market for them. a shining blue sapphire. the first commercial mining for sapphires in New South Wales began in 1919. Like the ones we found ourselves. In the creek the water was cool. he said he worked for fun and didn't expect to find much. With a careful turn of the sieve away from him. Stones were found by gold seekers in the area as early as 1854. With luck. Then it is back to another shovelful of dirt. we experienced flies at a level of inconvenience we were sooner or later expecting. we found seven or eight sapphires. bottom side up. central pile. none were "cutters. In the creek. and the process is repeated²a long pile. Twenty or thirty continually circled each of us. Sieving was hard work. Insect repellent did not repell them. a round pile. An elderly man working near us proved especially friendly and helpful. all too small to take seriously. with the sapphires. The sapphires are removed with tweezers to avoid disturbing the pile or pushing them under with clumsy fingers. there was no shade by the creek. On this creek. Then we decided to step back into history by joining the old-timers at the creek. so we never turned more than slightly red. more or less as it was at the beginning. hats. the old man a pair of ordinary leather street shoes. lips. and smaller. it was necessary to find likely places to dig along the bank. bright sun. Although we were able to park our car under the shade of a gum tree. or sometimes two or three. We yearned for the . then carried the sieve to the pad to turn it over. At the beginners' area. they would not scare. and then carry the dirt to the rocker. In a couple of hours working the dredged soil. carrying. and our tennis shoes squished and collected sandy soil as we walked in and out of the creek and up and down the bank. but made the air humid. he deposits the pile of pebbles. if there are any. A man and a wife found a couple of stones that looked of some small value. turnabout. Nobody trusted bare feet on the bottom of an Australian creek. The married pair wore rubber boots. This is done a few times. but we observed cancerous looking spots on the skin of the elderly man who befriended us. Then the screen is bounced lightly up and down a few times to spread the pile across the screen. A well-shaken pile can be identified by its larger black stones near the middle. and faces. who could tell better before the dredging which places might prove worth the digging. At one time. Sweat ran down our faces. he said. Retired. From time to time he handed us a sapphire he found for our collection. For the first time. We wore broad-brimmed hats and spread sunblock on our exposed skin. working from the edges inward.
and without the assistance of both Hands to keep them off. the road turned more frequently. or grazing areas. Like the flies. on the New England Highway between Uralla and Glen Innis. In a day's fossicking. he returned to his feeding. travelling much faster than we were. we chose the back way. This is the area where Tom Roberts. . William Dampier noted the flies in A New Voyage Round the World. so that even on dirt we found 80 kilometers per hour a reasonable speed. Although there were place names on the map. "the father of Australian painting. On the bitumen stretches. and grades were steeper. where the pickings would be richer than around Inverell. Mate" printed on front. This was the closest we got to wild Australia during our stay.classic fly hat of the Outback. but moved only another ten or twenty feet further away and stood calmly watching us. with wine corks dangling on strings all around the wide brim." shows an encounter with the police at Paradise Creek. once a boom town with 6. observing the effect on the natives: Their Eye-lids are always half closed. . and Mouth. none cutters. large grays of the kind that get to be six feet tall. we passed the road to Tingha. which we crossed not long before Armidale." shows Thunderbolt holding up a stagecoach on the old road from Inverell to Armidale and "In a Corner of the Macintyre. We were ready for gold. we collected nineteen sapphires. and flies. we learned to ignore them as the old-timers did. the fox didn't scare. where a few tin mines still worked help sustain the 300 people who live there now. and on the back a depiction of hundreds of black flies. these flies behaved much the same. we enjoyed the process and quit only as the day began to wane so we could go to the Tourist Information Center before closing for more maps. Such tales encourage. The council representative who rented tools and gave instruction said that within the past couple of years an amateur fossicker found a stone worth several thousand dollars. Clearly you would not want to run into one. When we drove on.000 miners. hard work. Not far from Inverell. Nearer to the Great Divide. they do never open their Eyes as other People . but there was no traffic and the 70 miles an hour was our own. My abrupt braking and backing to look at him would have been suicidal on an American two-lane road with no shoulder and traffic moving at 70 miles an hour. For the first time we saw wild kangaroos. the countryside bulged with stones and boulders. A couple stood in a field. too. and were passed by only one going in our direction. they being so troublesome here. Rolf Boldrewood . we decided to return to Armidale. we began to understand stories of Outback driving at 140 or 150 kph for hours on end. not far from the road. Despite the many earlier fossickers at the Nullamanna site. but apart from the dream of a great find and despite the heat. Since squinting eyes have difficulty seeing the small blue gleam of the sapphire. to see if it would work at all. our elderly friend said he had occasionally found gratifyingly big stones. with long portions of the 130 kilometers unpaved. and many miles of gum tree forests. with or without a roo bar. but from them we learned to appreciate the tee shirt of the souvenir shops. cultivated fields. In an hour and a half of driving we passed no more than three or four cars coming toward us. For that. . The roads were narrow but well-maintained. In order to see new country. that no Fanning will keep them from coming to ones Face. and another half dozen in a creek considerably below us in a gully we passed. Although he wrote of the west coast of Australia three hundred years ago. if the Lips are not shut very close: so that from their Infancy being thus annoyed with these Insects. 100 kph was easy and the speedometer kept creeping to 120. tenaciously inquisitive house flies and did not bite. Most looked like small. On long straight-aways. to keep the Flies out of their Eyes. Somewhere in the wider area. with nothing moving in all the wide horizon except the trail of dust slowly settling to earth in the wake of the car. with no traffic in sight. "Bailed Up. Later we saw a fox standing over a kill only twenty or thirty feet from the road. a white shirt with the legend "No Flies on Me. we passed few houses. We were climbing from an altitude of 1980 feet above sea level at Inverell to one of 3330 feet at Armidale. they will creep into the Nostrils." memorialized two of Captain Thunderbolt's exploits in their proper settings.
The large-mesh screen that proved useful at Nullamanna we decided to dispense with here by picking through the large pieces of gravel by hand. Under Governor Gipps. and if it held gems. we were interested to see this public provision in a time when animal transport over large distances is more likely by truck or railroad car than by foot and hoof. Lacking a pick. The creek with the kangaroos was not Myall. Rita sold us a pan and a fine-mesh screen that would enable us to fossick for both gold and sapphires. and when we reached it we would know we had gone too far. numerous gum trees providing welcome shade. was played out on both sides of the Divide not much further south. Although we found no other fossickers. We particularly did not want to be surprised by a bull. Before bushrangers. has gold. On the left. In Armidale. which was based on historical murders of whites in 1900. in and around Tamworth and Scone. We would pass two bridges. We made a false start on one track that went nowhere promising. and various tracks easy to drive on. but there the best places might be closed to amateurs as a result of the commercial mining that had recently begun there again. In 1838. it needed only the appearance of a stagecoach and some armed men on horseback to bring the bushranging period to life. Cattle and sheep had left evidence of recent presence. a bit west of Inverell. which becomes Grafton Road. we used a hammer. few other whites. however. she said. Still it would water cattle. Ron was not in. the woman at the local information center suggested that if we wanted gold we might try Rocky River. The place she was sending us to not only had the advantage of being nearby. there was Hillgrove. She confirmed that Hillgrove was inaccessible because of the working mine. We found the grazing area easily enough. In the morning. but no big nuggets. The third bridge was new. so much the better. she drew us one on lined paper from a writing tablet. where she and her family used to fossick using automobile hubcaps for washing pans. and no blacks at all. and other stones. but suggested we go to a place on the Gura River. Digging was hard. for the search for grass and water in a countryside of extensive private holdings forms a major theme in Joseph Furphy's Such Is Life. Small piles of charred wood near the water indicated billies had been boiled there recently by drovers or fossickers. and probably not Paradise. but much that we passed gives that impression. there were early settlers and Aborigines. In scenery little changed in a century. Rocky River. but there was nothing to tell us so. but as far as we could see there were none now in the area. Part of the life of the fictional half-caste Jimmy Blacksmith. As an alternative. twenty-eight Aborigines were shot and killed and their bodies burned by twelve white men (including eleven convicts) on a squatter's run at Myall Creek. and closed it behind us. then tried a second that ran a couple of hundred yards directly down to the river²³creek´ was a better term. but Rita was very helpful. Ron at the Armidale Rock Shop would have better advice. we saw no bushrangers on the road. The fox unafraid of people seemed to belong to an era different from our own. drove through the gate. In 1989. We would go out to Marsh Street and from there find Barney Street. and nothing there to indicate what century we were in. near Uralla. an old house apparently once the center of a large station. before a third bridge.located the original valley that stood as model for the Terrible Hollow hideout in his Robbery Under Arms. we checked into the Cotswold Gardens Motor Inn. Knowing that accessible grazing places were once few and far between in Australia. we would find a gate to a public grazing ground. The area held enough acreage so that we were not sure how far it extended beyond our view. despite outraged cries from whites who considered Aboriginal lives a cheap price to pay for Progress. The Rock Shop was on Beardy Street. The life forms in the area are not all trees and kangaroos and foxes. but it included a fair amount of grass. but she could speak from experience of its worth: she displayed a handsome ring she was wearing that was set with a fair-sized sapphire she found there. seven of the murderers were tried and executed. screw driver. since it was only a few feet across and not much more than ankle deep. we decided the rest of the ground was not virgin but merely silted and grassed over. east of Armidale. Having no printed map. that would have gold. sapphires. halfway to Hillgrove. and tire iron to . and only a few places where the ground seemed disturbed.
on the other side of the Rocks from the cove. and for the first couple of hours largely unrewarding. we said our final farewells to Phil and Dorothy. Instead. and packed ourselves into a rental station wagon for the drive to Sydney. For the gold. There is an aquarium with local sea life and an Australian Story Village that features three-dimensional figures in scenes from Banjo Paterson's "The Man from Snowy River" and "Waltzing Matilda. we see with eyes tutored by earlier visions. to the bright sun and mostly cloudless. Back in Newcastle. to the empty spaces. There were no nuggets. and a monorail. with good Australian beers. we spent the last few weeks getting to the beach when we could. to the red-brick and tile-roofed suburbs with their close-cropped lawns and neatly-trimmed hedges. Again it was hot." We passed these up. and generally winding up our Australian affairs.loosen soil to carry to the creek for washing. attending farewell dinners. losing a little of the lighter soil each time until only the heavy gold would be left. for one last meal until time to leave for the airport. it seemed appropriate to see Darling Harbour. to the cuts through the sandstone cliffs that removed the climbs and dips of earlier roads. and the country homes with rusting roofs of corrugated iron. travelers have become fossickers. to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. to the roadside miles of forests and grasslands much greener in November than on our arrival in July. to the University on our left and the Junction and Bar Beach on our right as we glided down Macquarie Street from our newly locked house. and unmistakably gold. to the blue distant mountains of the Great Divide and the New England tablelands that lay beyond and to the north. to Ku-ring-gai National Park stretching away from the highway and enclosing within its thousands of acres of heath and forest its astonishing array of Aboriginal rock carvings. and at the souvenir shops bought no plywood boomerangs or coin purses made from kangaroo testicles. Within them we find gems and flakes of gold passed over in all earth's . That morning we had said our mental farewells to central Newcastle as we saw it spread before us from the top of our hill. to the dark of the night with its preternaturally bright stars and its crooked cross²this last observed by us one last time on a flag whipped against the sky by a stiff breeze as we drove out of Sydney to the airport. blue skies we had lived under for nearly five months. we found a good pizza place. But often the small shovelfuls of experience we turn over and sift through become ours alone. On our first November 19th of that year (the second came the next day when we passed the International Date Line). with a few hours free before our flight. We sold the Holden for more than we paid for it. grading papers and exams. we had visited Circular Quay at Sydney Cove.000 to our pockets as we prepared to leave. In the twentieth century. and got our bond back from the Rental Board in Sydney: together these transactions returned over $5. to the coast stretching south from Newcastle to Sydney and north to Byron Bay and the Queensland border. only a few minutes away. where the country's first European settlement began. but we began to think we needed more practice. On our last afternoon. Then in a new spot we struck pay dirt. On our first afternoon in Australia. to Charlestown with its three-level mall and multi-screen cinema. and to the boys who showed up to see the girls off. although we found a couple of small sapphires. the lonely crossroads hotels with iron lacework ornamenting their wide verandas. Here contemporary Sydney has constructed a dockside entertainment and shopping center. to Lake Macquarie and its tidal entrance not far from the airport where Aeropelican brought Aunt Ky to Belmont. It rained briefly on this last day as we sat with our pizzas and when we left the flag and the city were overarched by a magnificent rainbow. complete with roller coaster and ferriswheel rides. received a rebate on our insurance. but we soon had a dozen flakes large enough to be easily seen. to the Hawkesbury River winding between high sheer hills as we passed above on the soaring bridge with its wind socks fluttering in the breeze. we used the time-honored method of sloshing the water in a circular motion off the edge of the pan. Arriving in places others have already visited. to the reflective towers of North Sydney and Sydney. street performers.
. We saw many changes in Sydney and Newcastle. the rain forests. We saw old friends and revisited many of the places we had seen before. and the Great Barrrier Reef. To the rainbow that framed the Southern Cross on the day we left. New South Wales became one of the richest in pleasant discovery of all places we had visited. Details of this visit appear in the last chapter of our book Around the World on the QE2.history before. To our family. and this time got to Queensland. Afterword In 2008 we went back. we returned the silent promise that we would one day return.